FIFA Under 16 World Cup Scotland 1989

When thinking about something to post, generate some interest and keep the page alive, I felt I had to keep it in line with the blog’s theme. If you are a Scottish football fan of a certain vintage, you will recall the Final against the bearded Saudia Arabian 16 year olds. So I thought yes, its youth football and there was a Rangers interest.

The Tournament ran from 10th until the 24th June 1989. There were three Rangers players in the 18 man squad, midfielders Neil Murray and David Hagen and Striker Craig Flannigan.

Scotland opened the tournament at Hampden, with an 0-0 draw against Ghana. I was at the game and the two things that stick in the memory were the performance of Ghana’s Nii Lamptey and that “Willie Brown” played for Ghana and not Scotland.

Next up came Cuba at Fir Park and a comfortable 3-0 victory, with two goals from Morton’s Kevin McGoldrick and one from Dundee Utd’s John Lindsay.

It was back to Fir Park two days later and an early goal from Jim Beattie of Celtic secured a 1-1 draw with Bahrain, this was enough to see Scotland qualify in second place behind the team from the gulf state.

Meanwhile at Pittodrie the teams expected to progress, Brazil and the GDR, qualified at the expense of the emerging football nations USA and Australia in Group B.

Group C was hosted at Dens Park and Canada had the unfortunate distinction of being the only team not to gain a point. Nigeria topping the group with Argentina finishing second, and the Chinese packing their bags, going home with only a victory against Canada and the attractions of Dundee as memories.

Over at Tynecastle some guy called Luis Figo, helped Portugal top Group D. The “men” of Saudia Arabia also progressing, with Guinea and Columbia heading for the pubs of Rose Street.

So now it was Quarter Final time, first up Brazil -v- Bahrain at Fir Park, easy for Brazil. Well it was easy in the penalty shoot-out, 4-1 after an 0-0 draw. Oh wait a minute it was for Bahrain !

Scotland’s Quarter Final got the imagination of 10,200 Aberdonians, who popped along to see them take on those dour East Germans. That man boy John Lindsay again, 1-0 Scotland we are in the semis.

Dens Park and its another 0-0 draw, a penalty shoot out. Nigeria can’t manage a single goal, but the Saudis (who look as if they could have been practicing taking penalties for at least 20 years), score 2.

Tynecastle circa. 1989, the glamour stadium, gets the glamour tie. Portugal 2 Argentina 1, the decisive second goal scored by Luis Figo, I wonder what happened to him?

Scotland in the Semi Final of a world football tournament ?? Now the country really was taking notice, but the first Semi is Bahrain against Saudi Arabia. Battle of the Arabs, it must be at Tannadice surely ? No we sent them to Fir Park, and 9,000 turn up !! John Boyle and Mark McGhee can only dream of that kinda crowd. The Saudi’s winning 1-0 with a goal from Khalid Al Romaihi, he never quite reached the heights of the Figo guy.

As the country geared up for the game against Portugal, nobody in Scotland knew who Luis Figo was, but we wouldn’t have been scared oh him anyway. A crowd of 29,000 packed Tynecastle, yes you did read that right, 29,000 !! And there was loads locked out too. A header in the 54th minute from Celtic’s Brian O’Neil took Scotland to their first World football final, and its going to be at home too.

So June 24th 1989, the crowd of 58,000 rise as the teams emerge. A few minutes later 20,000 say to the guy next to them “I thought this was Under 16’s ? No way, six of them have moustaches !!”. All this is forgotten when in the 7th minute Ian Downie of Aberdeen puts Scotland 1-0 up. 25 minutes gone and its 2-0, Arsenal’s Paul Dickov !! So half time, Scotland-2- Saudia Arabia – 0, surely there is no way back for them.

It wouldn’t be Scotland though would it ? They pull a goal back in the 49th minute, don’t panic. Aw naw 65 minutes and its 2-2, but in 71 minutes and it swings back to Scotland as the Saudi’s are reduced to 10 men. Alas no further scoring in regulation and extra time and its down to a penalty shoot out. We fall at the final hurdle and lose 5-4, I can’t remember who missed, but does it matter ? After all they were only 15 years old, “15 YEARS OLD !!, SIX OF THEM HAVE GOT MOUSTACHES !!”

From a Rangers perspective David Hagen & Craig Flannigan’s only appearance was as substitutes in the first game against Ghana. Neil Murray started against Cuba, came on against Bahrain and again in extra time in the final. But hey they all got silver medals, Luis Figo only got a bronze (Portugal beat Bahrain 3-0 in the play off).

Who picked up the “Adidas Golden Ball” for the player of the tournament ? Perhaps it was this guy pictured above ?

The honour went to Jim Will (Scotland & Arsenal). For the first time in the history of the FIFA U-16 World Championship, the adidas Golden Ball was awarded to a goalkeeper. To quote “the young Arsenal keeper put up a confident display: commanding in the air, agile on his line, good with his feet and a leader of men at the back”.


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