Best Scottish footballers of all time

Thursday03 December 2020 | 4:30
Copy Link

So let us recall and look back at the finest players in the history of Scotland

Scottish football has been in the depths of despair lately.

There was however a time in the not-so-distant past when the Scots were one of the world's greatest football teams, featuring as Manchester United,


, Rangers and Celtic stars, the

Best Scottish footballers of all time.

Unfortunately though, those times are gone and do not look likely to come back for a long time.

Great players have been identified because of the amount of time (or rather the lack of time) they have spent in the Premier League since 1975, but a player who has been outstanding for three years will have been voted higher than anyone who has been streaky for a decade.

Best Scottish footballers of all time

Here is a look at Scotland's greatest soccer players ever…

Kenny Dalglish

It is absurd not to have one of the

Best Scottish footballers of all time

on any list.

The fact that he only played for two seasons in this period is due to his lower than average status, while he was top scorer in one and captained


to double in his final season before moving to Liverpool and global fame.

But if you're as good at Dalglish, that's enough to meet the requirements.

He and his good friend Danny McGrain, as a Celtic player in his final years, combined as well as any two in the history of the club. On the field, they had an almost telepathic connection.

Dalglish's goals came from everywhere, and he had the fastest football brain the league has ever seen, it goes almost without mentioning. He was most probably a more remarkable Celtic player, he scored some goals that are fortunately on tape, turning away as if shocked by his own brilliance with a huge smile every time.

There's one where he proves to be definitely one of

Scotland's greatest soccer players ever

, he looks to twist a shot in the far corner and instead dribbles through the nearby post. No one else could have come up with something like that, never mind performing it.

Jimmy McGrory


For the Scottish national team, McGrory, Being one of the

Best Scottish footballers of all time

, won seven caps, scoring six goals.

He was typically ignored in the mid and late 1920s, as were Dave Halliday and Hughie Ferguson, in favor of Hughie Gallacher, who played 18 times during that period, scoring 24 goals in 17 wins and one draw.

When Gallacher was on a two-month suspension, McGrory's full international debut was at Firhill in 1928 against Ireland; Scotland lost 1-0 to an opponent Gallacher normally scored freely against. McGrory became something of a scapegoat, waiting for his full international recall for over three years.

Six of McGrory's caps came in the 1930's when Gallacher was unavailable due to a suspension on non-English players playing for English clubs.

Gallacher had been at the core of this club-versus-country conflict when under pressure from Newcastle United directors, he was playing for them against


rather than for Scotland against England – Arsenal had been particularly angry after they were released.

In those six games, McGrory scored six goals, but despite this strike rate, he never had an extended run in the team; He was indeed one of the

Best Scottish Soccer Players ever.

Exclusive SPORTMOB video

his last appearance, the only one he didn't score apart from his debut, was also against Ireland and finished in defeat, this time at his home club, Celtic Park. The press was critical of the Scottish players individually 

You Might Also Like: 

Best football players of all time

Darren Fletcher

During the 2003–04 season, Fletcher established himself as a regular choice for Scotland for he was one of the

Best Scottish Soccer Players ever

. In a 1–0 victory against Lithuania, he scored his first goal, having come off the bench for just his second cap.

His goal led Scotland to the UEFA Euro 2004 play-offs. He captained Scotland to a 1-0 friendly win versus


in Tallinn on 26 May 2004, making him the youngest Scottish captain since John Lambie, 17, in 1886. In a 3–0 victory against Slovenia on 12 October 2005, Fletcher scored with a 25-yard ball.

Under Alex McLeish, Fletcher was Scotland's Vice-Captain, replacement in the absence of regular Captain Barry Ferguson.

In November 2009, when Ferguson was suspended from international football for misbehavior, Fletcher was appointed full-time captain. He was without a doubt one of the Best Scottish football Players in history.

In September 2010, in a UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying match against Liechtenstein, Fletcher won his 50th cap. His episodes of illness affected his international career, ensuring that the captaincy was taken by Scott Brown.

In March 2014, Fletcher was summoned to the international squad for a friendly against Poland. In September 2016, after Brown had temporarily withdrawn from international football, he reclaimed the captaincy.

Willie Miller

Probably the only player to be able to get into the greatest Sir Alex Ferguson XI who has not played for

Manchester United


He was the best central defender in the British Isles at his prime,one of the Best Scottish footballers of all time which seemed to continue for the entire 1980s, the star player on the side of Aberdeen who were the best team in Europe.

The Glaswegian had about him a swagger. He would knock out the game's best strikers and if any dared try to get through him, he was the king inside the penalty box on the last-gasp tackle. He was a ball-playing sweeper who allowed the dirty work to be done by Alex McLeish. He could go a whole season without an error.

So great was Miller that, having read every tackle and header to excellence, he would walk from the field without even a drop of sweat to be found. Just ask Charlie Nicholas and Ally McCoist how ruthless the captain of Aberdeen was.

And he did all of this while helping the referee at the same time. What a fellow.

Fans of the opposition hated and admired him in equal measure, no wonder. He may have moved south at 21 these days, but he remained at one club and is so far Aberdeen's finest player ever, clearly one of the Greatest Scottish players in football history.

What he won: Premier League three times, Scottish Cup four times, League Cup three times, European Cup-Winners’ Cup once, Super Cup once

Best moment: His headed goal against Celtic at Pittodrie in 1985 which brought an equaliser that sealed the league.

Jim Leighton

After working in the civil service on leaving school, Leighton joined Aberdeen from the Scottish Junior club Dalry Thistle in 1977.

He was loaned out for one season to Highland League side Deveronvale until breaking into the Aberdeen first team, where he is now a Hall of Fame club honoree and one of the most

famous Scottish footballers in history

. In the early to mid-1980s, Leighton obtained his greatest success under Alex Ferguson's management.

Ferguson's Aberdeen won Premier Division titles with Leighton in goal in 1984 and 1985, the Scottish Cup four times, the Scottish League Cup once, and the European Cup Winners' Cup and Super Cup in 1983.

Danny McGrain

Some would be unable to believe that this defender of the top class, the best right-back in football at its height, isn't number one on this list. His followers have a good argument for him being the 1st in this list of  Best Scottish footballers of all time

An extraordinary talent was one of the greatest Celtic players of all time. A defender who was as good at attacking as a defenseman- just don't ask him to shoot.

McGrain was gifted with pace, a touch, a brain of football that you could only marvel at and the ability to read the game above all others. He was flawless.

A lesser man would have been hampered by a fractured leg, a cracked skull and diabetes. Surely it was not Daniel Fergus McGrain.

The beard meant that he still looked older than his years, which is why the brilliant man would be underestimated by some youngsters. But those lucky enough to see him realize what they saw. As good a player from


as there ever was. He would have walked into the Lions team. He would walk into any team. He was definitely one of the most famous Scottish footballers in history.

What he won (in Premier League era) Five League titles, three Scottish Cups, one League Cups, one Player of the year.

Best moment: The entire 1976/77 season. He didn't put a foot wrong.

Hughie Gallacher

Gallacher represented Scotland 20 times and scored 24 goals, representing himself as one of the

Best Scottish footballers of all time

. Just two players, Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish, with 30 each, scored more goals than Gallacher's 24 for the full Scotland team.

Out of his 20 caps, Gallacher scored 1.2 goals per game. In a 2-0 victory against Ireland, he won his first cap on 1 March 1924.

When Gallacher and Alex James both were picked to play, Scotland managed to win all six games; this included the 1928 'Wembley Wizards' 5-1 defeat of England when James netted two times .

Gallacher hit five goals in the Scottish League's 7-3 victory over the Irish League in November 1925, proving himself as one of the Greatest Scottish players in football history. Two weeks later, the Gallacher double followed in a 2-0 win vesus the English League.

Denis Law

In the 1958 FIFA World Cup, Law was not selected to perform for Scotland and he was not one of the Best Scottish footballers of all time yet, but Matt Busby, who briefly managed Scotland for two matches, made his debut in a British Home Championship match against


on 18 October 1958.

In a 3–0 victory over the Welsh at Ninian Park, Law produced Scotland's second goal. In Scotland's match against England on 15 April 1961, he appeared but did not score. Scotland lost Game 9-3, and Law mentioned it as its "blackest day".

While Law continued to play for Scotland with Torino, the club was not willing to approve him for international matches and had inserted a clause in his contract stating that they were not allowed to do so.

For the Rest of the World team that faced England in the FA Centenary match in 1963, Law was selected.

When playing for Scotland against Poland on 21 October 1965, Law hurt his right knee. On 15 April 1967, in the 1967 British Home Championship, Law scored in Scotland's famous 3-2 victory over England, becoming known as one of the Scotland's greatest soccer players ever, less than a year after England had become world champions.

That season, Manchester United won the championship, but Law thought the win over England was even more enjoyable.

Billy Bremner

Until making his senior debut for Scotland in May 1965, in a 0-0 draw with Spain at Hampden Park, Bremner was well established in the Scotland set-up, featuring in a trial match against the Scottish Football League XI and gaining four under-23 caps.

He went on to appear in the 1966 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, but defeats to Poland and Italy left Scotland second in their group, which was not enough to qualify.

He also played against Brazil and


in friendlies, and got a black eye from Pelé's elbow in a high ball clash; despite this being an incident, it still showed Bremner how he had struggled to threaten Pelé as he had done to many other great players of the day.

Graeme Souness

While a Middlesbrough member, on 30 October 1974, Souness earned his first international cap for Scotland in a 3-0 friendly victory at Hampden Park over East Germany.

By the time Souness was picked for the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina by manager Ally McLeod for the Scotland team, only six caps had been given to him. His move to


expanded his profile, naming him one of the Best Scottish footballers of all time.

Souness missed the first two matches in Scotland, a loss to Peru and a draw with Iran, due to injury. For the final group match against the Netherlands, he was picked. Souness led to a 3-2 win that nevertheless saw Scotland disqualified on goal difference from the competition.

Souness has participated in two additional World Cups. The first, in Spain in 1982, saw all three group stage matches played by Souness. In the final game before removal, a 2-2 draw with the Soviet Union in Malaga, his first international goal was scored.

Joe Jordan

Jordan started his first game for the Scottish national team on 19 May 1973, three days after featuring in the European Cup Winners Cup final for Leeds, a 1-0 loss to England at Wembley.

In 1973, as part of the 1974 World Cup qualifying campaign to be hosted in West Germany, in a match against Czechoslovakia at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Jordan scored with a flying header in what proved to be a vital winning goal.

This was the first time they had qualified for the World Cup in 16 years, struggling in three previous attempts to secure Scotland a spot in the finals. The last time they played in the finals was the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

In the four game qualification sequence in UEFA Group 8, the game, which ended 2-1, was the second to last game and Scotland's third victory.

The last match saw a pointless 1-0 win for Czechoslovakia over Scotland, which saw them finish second on five points, behind Scotland on six.Denmark completed the group bottom, on one point.

Exclusive SPORTMOB video

By the end of the 1973-4 season, Jordan won nine more Scotland caps, producing two goals on the way, which saw him chosen for the finals.

Jimmy Johnstone

Johnstone launched his international career on 5 February 1964, featuring in a friendly against England U23s for the Scottish Under 23 team, losing 2-0. In May of that year, he made one more appearance for the Scotland U23 team, a 3-0 win over France U23 away.

In a British Home Championship match versus Wales, he rose to fame for the full Scottish international side on 3 October 1964, in place of Rangers winger Willie Henderson.

Although the match ended in a 3-2 victory for the Welsh, he was involved in the move that led to Scotland's second goal. The next cap for Johnstone came in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park against Finland that same month.

"Scotland won 3-1, but the play of Johnstone was dismal, with his passing described as "lacking accuracy." Until 2 April 1966, Johnstone did not play for Scotland again when he scored his first two international goals in a 4-3 loss at Hampden Park against England

​Read More:

source: SportMob