Rod Stewart made 2 Scotland stars an offer of a lifetime but nightmare result grounded trip for the ages

Sir Rod Stewart has been to Glasgow
-Credit: (Image: PA)

The first cut is the deepest.

But for Don Hutchison, missing out on a major tournament AND a ride on Rod Stewart’s private jet is the blow which really stings. The former Scotland ace is packing his microphone and heading to Germany this month as he joins up with the commentary team working for US telly giants ESPN at the Euros. But Hutchison, 53, is still kicking himself that he never got to sample the big finals playing experience awaiting Steve Clarke’s class of 2024 himself. In fairness, the ex-Liverpool, West Ham, Everton and Sunderland striker came close on a couple of occasions.

No Tartan Army foot soldier will ever forget his Wembley winner in 1999 as Craig Brown’s side were edged out 2-1 on aggregate by the Auld Enemy in the Euro 2000 play-offs. Four years later he was involved in another two-legged shoot-out as Berti Vogts’ Scots squad headed to Amsterdam holding a 1-0 lead from the opener at Hampden. The prize on offer, though, wasn’t just a place in the 2004 finals in Portugal.

Taking up the story, Hutchison told Record Sport: “Missing out on a major tournament is still such a huge regret.

“I was part of a squad that lost in two play offs. Obviously I was in the team that lost to England at Wembley in 1999. But I was also in the squad that took on Holland for a place at Euro 2004. We were in such a good position in that one after James McFadden scored his wonder goal at Hampden. There’s a funny story about the second leg actually. Christian Dailly and I were playing for West Ham at the time so we roomed together while on international duty. We were sitting in the hotel room and Christian’s phone rang. It was Rod Stewart on the line. I think they knew each other as they lived close by.

“Now our routine after Scotland games was to fly back to Glasgow with the rest of the squad, stay overnight and then catch a flight back to our clubs the next day. It was always a bit of a trek and left you tired for your next game. So Rod goes to Christian, ‘If we get a good result against the Dutch in Amsterdam, you and and Don can come back with me on my private jet!’

“We looked at each other and were like, ‘Oh yes!’

“Obviously we got tw*tted 6-0, didn’t we? We couldn’t act like rock stars and climb onto Rod Stewart’s jet after that so we had to do the slum it back home with the rest of the boys after that!”

Hutchison’s pundit duties have allowed him to keep a close eye on Clarke’s Premier League stars.

And he’s also been a keen observer of the Tartan contingent operating in Italy. I’m heading off to the Euros next week with ESPN, which I’m really looking forward to,” said Hutchison. I’ll be working with Craig Burley. No doubt he’ll be miserable as normal and it will be up to me to lighten the mood. I love the punditry work. I do a Premier League commentary on a Saturday afternoon each week and I also get to work on our Serie A coverage too.

“With that, I’ve seen quite a bit of Lewis Ferguson this season and it’s just such a shame that he’s having to miss out because of injury. He’s been terrific for Bologna this season and it’s no surprise to me that some big clubs are now taking an interest in him. I really think it’s fantastic, though, that so many of the young Scottish lads have been handed that chance to go and try it over in Italy. As well as Lewis, you’ve had Josh Doig, Liam Henderson and also Aaron Hickey for a spell too.

“I’m really envious of the opportunities they had. It’s something I really wish I’d tried myself during my own playing days. I did have a little sniff at a move to Inter Milan at one stage. It was only a little rumour when I was playing quite well for Everton, there was nothing concrete. I actually told that story to a friend of mine recently. He asked, ‘Oh when would that have been’. I told him it was around 2000 or 2001, so he flicked up the Inter squad from that period on his phone and goes, ‘Just as well you never went there mate, you’d have never have got a game!’

“They had f***ing Ronaldo, Adriano, Christian Vieri - all these legendary names! I’d have been lucky to make the bench! But well done to the Scottish lads heading over there, I’m very jealous.”

Hutchison was the last Scot to score a winning goal against Germany having netted in a 1-0 friendly win in Bremen back in 1999. And he’s backing Clarke’s side to have another memorable result when they kick off the tournament against the hosts in Munich on June 14.

“It’s a shame that Ferguson and the two right-backs - Hickey and Nathan Patterson - are injured," he said.

“That’s always the concern when you’ve got a big tournament coming up.

“Man United were in the FA Cup Final last week and Scott McTominay, who has been in some form for Scotland, came off with an injury and everyone was sweating.

“Thankfully it turned out to be cramp but I’m just glad we’ve got most of the guys fit. McTominay looks like a different player when he pulls on that dark blue jersey. It looks like he has a weight off his shoulders when he plays for Scotland.

“John McGinn has been captaining Aston Villa this year and seems to play with that sense of responsibility for Scotland, even though it’s Andy Robertson wearing the armband. There guys like that right through the squad so I’m quite optimistic that if Steve Clarke picks the right side - which I’m sure he will - then Scotland can have a really good campaign.

“The big question with Scotland is the same as it was in my day - can the centre forwards contribute? Can they get a striker who will hit four or five goals?

“If they can, I can see this being a special tournament for Scotland.”