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David Marshall & Scotland
David Marshall’s save from Aleksandar Mitrovic was decisive in the play-off final shootout

It’s all John McGinn’s fault, says David Marshall, esteemed goalkeeper, national icon and now forever linked with a cheesy and irritatingly catchy pop tune.

Marshall became a Scotland legend in November when he stuck out a giant hand to parry away Aleksandar Mitrovic’s spot-kick and send his country to the Euros at Serbia’s expense.

A Thursday evening in Belgrade soon felt like all the best Saturday nights rolled into one as Scotland’s 23 years of frustration poured out after the play-off final success.

Marshall, normally content to fly under the radar, was front and centre of the joyous post-match party. His team-mates made sure of that, immortalising the goalie in song as Whigfield’s 1990s hit was put on heavy rotation.

“Kieran Tierney was the DJ and his song choices were debatable,” Marshall says as he recalls the celebrations.

“He was getting a bit of stick. Saturday Night came on and, at the end of the chorus, John McGinn shouted ‘David Marshall’ and that stuck and that went on for about five hours in a Serbian hotel.

“I tried to change it to Ryan Christie, but it never caught on! It was a very good night and almost better because of the Covid stuff in a bubble with just the staff and the players.”

‘I was calm, even though I looked anything but’

David Marshall in action for Scotland
David Marshall is established as Scotland’s first-choice goalkeeper under Steve Clarke

Marshall’s save, and his reaction, are already iconic. The moment – Scotland actually qualifying for a major tournament – seemed almost too good to be true as he delayed his celebrations a few seconds while the squad swarmed towards him from the halfway line.

After waiting a couple of decades, what’s another few seconds?

“The referee had told me there would be a VAR check, so don’t celebrate,” the 36-year-old tells BBC Football Focus.

“I didn’t look relatively calm, but I was because I knew that was taking place. We had done a lot of work with Stevie Woods, the goalie coach, so I was pretty confident Mitrovic was going to go that side.

“I saw the footage of Darren Fletcher and James McFadden after [celebrating in a TV studio] and it just showed how much it meant to get there.

“Because of Covid stuff and because I’m based in Derby, I haven’t met too many Scotland fans in person. I did have a look on Twitter and saw the calls for a statue. There were a lot of funny things going about and just an outpouring of emotion.”

Having won two shootouts – Marshall saved from Eran Zahavi as Israel were also dispatched on penalties in the play-off semi-final – Scotland look to be in safe hands at the Euros.

It would have been easy for the 36-year-old former Celtic number one to give up on his dream of turning out at a major finals, but patience and perseverance were rewarded.

The gloves that made him the toast of a nation are now on display in the Tennent’s brewery in Glasgow. And Marshall retains a thirst to create more unique moments by helping Scotland out of a group containing Croatia, Czech Republic and England.

“Berti Vogts was my first Scotland manager and that was when it first started going wrong in terms of not qualifying, but I don’t think anyone thought it would have been this long,” says Marshall, who won the first of his 43 caps in 2004.

“There’s nobody more frustrated than the players and there have been some real top players in squads who were unable to qualify.

“I honestly didn’t think we would never make it. When I came back into the squad and saw the quality that was there, I thought we had a real chance. I was always confident.”

As the second-oldest member of the Scotland squad – behind 38-year-old Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon – Marshall is a rarity in Steve Clarke’s squad as he can remember watching Scotland play at a major finals.

“For France 98, I would have just been in a pub up behind my mum and dad’s house,” the Derby County goalkeeper adds.

“I can remember Euro 96, the missed penalty, unfortunately. I’m probably the only player in the squad that can remember that.

“John Collins’ penalty was obviously a moment. The lads coming on in their kilts was a big moment. Hopefully we can create memories for a whole generation of kids in June.”

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