TOMMY GEMMELL has revealed he prevented Colin Stein from equalling a Scotland goalscoring record.
The Lisbon Lion was talking as Gordon Strachan’s side prepared to launch an almighty assault on Gibraltar in their Euro 2016 qualifying tie at Hampden tomorrow.
Gemmell recalled: “We were hammering Cyprus 7-0 in a World Cup qualifying tie on May 17, 1969 and there were still 14 minutes left to play.
“At that stage, I have to admit we looked good to go into double figures because our opponents had simply folded after the interval.
“In the first-half, we scored three inside half-an-hour through Eddie Gray, Billy McNeill and Colin Stein, but they closed up shop and we couldn’t add to that advantage.
“However, Colin walloped in our fourth shortly after the turnaround and then netted two more in an eight-minute spell.
“My wee pal Willie Henderson made it seven in the 70th minute and a goal deluge was on the cards.
“Six minutes later, we were awarded a penalty-kick and Colin stepped forward to grab the ball.
“Obviously, he had his eye on adding a fifth to his tally.
“I wasn’t having any of that. I was the designated spot-kick taker and it was my responsibility when one came around.
“Colin saw the futility of arguing as I took the ball off him and placed it on the spot.
“I remember it was at the traditional ‘Rangers’ End’ of the national stadium and the Ibrox fans were chanting for me to pass on the opportunity to Colin.
“No chance! They could shout themselves hoarse for all I cared – I was going to take the kick.
“In any case, if Colin had been given the ball and scored he would have beaten Denis Law’s record of four goals for his nation.
“The Lawman, a very good friend, had achieved the feat twice – in a 5-1 win over Northern Ireland in 1962 and a 6-1 victory over Norway a year later, with both games at Hampden.
“That re-enforced my belief that I had to take the kick.
“Could a Celtic player allow a Rangers rival the opportunity to eclipse a Scotland legend? No way.
“A check of the record books later proved only one Scot had ever scored five in an international and that was Newcastle’s Hughie Gallacher in a 7-3 victory over Northern Ireland in Belfast in 1929.
“Anyway, I took the kick and battered it past the shell-shocked keeper. Amazingly, we just could not add to that tally and had to be satisfied with eight.
“Let’s hope it turns out to be a similar story against Gibraltar in this tie.
“But I hope Gordon has better luck in qualifying for France next year than we had in attempting to get to Mexico in 1970.
“We were really unlucky to lose 3-2 to West Germany in Hamburg, I was sent off two minutes from time for booting Helmut Haller up into the air after he tripped me and the dream was over.
“I’ll be cheering on my former Dundee player and the Scots all the way tomorrow.”
* You can read more revealing thoughts of a genuine Celtic legend in ‘Tommy Gemmell: All The Best’ published by CQN and available at www.cqnbookstore.com.