Over my broadcasting career, I have been lucky enough to cover and attend some huge sporting events such as The Open Championship and rugby grand slams. However, in 1998, nothing compared to the biggest footballing event on the planet, the World Cup.
A match that will live with me forever and a personal highlight of my career will always be the opening match, Scotland v Brazil. I was presenting a show covering the game, live from the Stade de France in Paris.
Alongside me were Ally McCoist and Willie Miller and I remember standing in the gantry, minutes before we went live and suddenly thinking to myself: ‘This will be something that will probably never happen again in my lifetime – it’s going to be special’.
At the time, we thought it would be special because Scotland were playing a great country like Brazil but looking back now, it was also special because it was the last time Scotland even managed to qualify for a World Cup or major championship.
To be honest, I don’t tend to get nervous when I’m on television or radio – I’ve been doing it too long to get like that. But that day, I knew that Scotland facing Brazil in the opening match of a World Cup would be attracting a huge audience back home. I have to admit, I was on edge going live that day, because it would not have been a good day to mess up my lines.
Brazil had won the World Cup four years previously in the United States, so the task facing Scotland was huge. Brazil took an early lead, scoring after just four minutes, and the signs looked ominous.
However, when Scotland equalised 1-1 through a John Collins penalty, the feelings of unity and coming together were unbelievable. It really was like a whole nation standing as one.
Even though we went on to lose 2-1, putting up a fight against one of the greatest footballing nations in the world and the side who went on to make the final, it really made everyone feel pride in their nation. It’s amazing how football can unite people like that, even if it is for just 90 minutes.It was a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life and, hopefully, an experience that future generations will be able to witness for themselves.