Scotland’s Five Greatest Footballers of All Time

Scotland may not be a leading force on the international stage, but that doesn't mean they haven't produced some fantastic players!

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Scotland have produced a number of world-class footballers over the years and we have taken a trip down memory lane to uncover the five greatest players to hail from the country.

Much of Scotland’s success both at club level and on the international stage came during the1960s, 70s and 80s, and while modern-day players such as Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney could one day aspire to be on this list, it is from those eras where our search primarily rests.

1) Kenny Dalglish

It is hard to argue against former Liverpool and Celtic star Kenny Dalglish being Scotland’s greatest ever player, with the majestic forward leading the way as the country’s leading appearance maker (102) and joint top scorer (30).

Dalglish represented Scotland at three World Cups, scoring in their memorable 3-2 victory over the Netherlands at the 1978 finals, while his winning goals in consecutive years against England in 1975 and 76 were always going to endear him into the hearts of all Scotland supporters.

The now 70-year-old also enjoyed plenty of success at club level, winning 24 major honours as a player with Celtic and Liverpool, including three European Cups and six league championships with the latter.

He also won three league titles as a manager with Liverpool, while his Premier League success when in charge of Blackburn in 1995 arguably ranks as one of his greatest achievements in football.

2) Denis Law

The only man to have scored as many goals for Scotland as Dalglish is former Manchester United star Denis Law, who achieved the feat in 47 fewer caps.

Law is best remembered for his 11-year spell at Old Trafford between 1962-73, where he formed part of a three-pronged attack alongside Bobby Charlton and George Best, scoring 237 goals in 434 appearances for the club and he remains third on their all-time scoring list – while he is also the only Scot ever to win the Ballon d’Or, doing so in 1964.

The forward moved on to Manchester City after leaving United and on the final day of the 1973-74 season he scored the winning goal against his former club that contributed to their relegation from the top flight.

Remarkably, at international level, Law only featured at one major tournament for Scotland, the 1974 World Cup, with his sole appearance coming in their group opener against Zaire in what proved to be his final match for his country.

3) Jimmy Johnstone

Another player that never fulfilled his potential on the international stage was legendary Celtic winger Jimmy Johnstone, who scored four goals in 23 appearances for his country but never featured at a major tournament – he was an unused substitute in all three of their matches at the 1974 World Cup.

However, Johnstone’s achievements at club level cannot be overlooked, as in 13 years with Celtic he won 20 major honours including nine league titles in a row under the guidance of legendary manager Jock Stein.

Johnstone was also part of the historic Lisbon Lions team that shocked Inter Milan to become the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967, while he also helped Celtic to the final of the same competition three years later.

Nicknamed “Jinky” for his amazing dribbling skills and trickery, Johnstone ended his Celtic career in 1975 having scored 135 goals in 529 appearances.

4) Graeme Souness

When you think of a tough-tackling, no-nonsense midfielder, one of the first names that surely comes to mind is Graeme Souness, who represented Scotland 54 times between 1974-86 and played at three World Cups.

Souness was the player that did all the dirty work to allow the flair players in front of him to progress, most notably Dalglish, who he played alongside at Liverpool as well as with Scotland.

Like Dalglish, Souness lifted three European Cups during his time at Anfield, while he also won trophies later in his career during his time in Italy with Sampdoria and at Rangers.

With Rangers, Souness also enjoyed success as a player-manager, winning three league titles, while he went on to spend three years in the Liverpool dugout between 1991-94, helping the Reds to FA Cup glory in 1992 – the one trophy that had alluded him as a player.

5) Danny McGrain

Danny McGrain holds an impressive record considering Scotland have never made it beyond the group stage at a major international tournament, as in five appearances across the 1974 and 78 World Cups, he did not end up on the losing side once.

In total, McGrain won 62 caps for his country, many as captain, while his versatility meant he was easily capable of playing as a right or left-back.

The now 71-year-old spent 17 of his 18 years as a professional with Celtic, amassing a whopping 681 appearances which leaves him fifth on their all-time list.

McGrain won seven league championships, five Scottish Cups and two League Cups during his time at Parkhead, while he was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

A fountain of knowledge on football, Tom offers a particular in-depth expertise in EFL and European leagues.
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