JUST over six years and three months ago, Leigh Griffiths sent two soaring long-range free-kicks beyond the grasping fingers of Joe Hart at Hampden Park in a crucial Euro 2018 qualifier.
A late goal from Harry Kane gave England a 2-2 draw with Scotland, a loss of two points that went a long way to Gordon Strachan’s side failing to reach the finals the following summer in Portugal.
The Scots striker is now plying his trade in Australia with a semi-professional outfit, the keeper, who has won five medals at Celtic, is preparing to play among the elite in the Champions League and the English marksman moved from Spurs to Bayern Munich for £100million in the summer.
TAKING THE FREEWAY…Leigh Griffiths curls in one of his free-kick double against Joe Hart in the 2-2 stalemate at Hampden.
In the midst of all the upheaval, Callum McGregor has remained a constant in the champions’ midfield and will make his 55th appearance for his country in tonight’s 150th Anniversary Match against the Auld Enemy in Glasgow.
The product of the club’s academy will equal the cap record of the legendary Denis Law, the nation’s joint-top goalscorer alongside Hoops great Kenny Dalglish on 30 strikes.
McGregor, 30, played in the 0-0 deadlock at Wembley two years ago in the Euros and was six when the Scots last overcome their neighbours in 1999 – a Don Hutchinson goal doing the business in London – and admitted: “I don’t remember that win. I would have been running about playing football somewhere.
“But, of course, you see the Scotland-England divide, it is always there in all aspects of life. My dad never shuts up talking about the Scotland v England game. I have heard enough about it in the weeks leading up to this game.
SCOTLAND THE RAVE…Callum McGregor celebrates with his international team-mates after scoring against Georgia at Hampden in June.
“I am sure he will be excited tonight. He was probably at the one where they were swinging from the crossbar!
“But for us, as players, it is a big game. We understand what it means to the supporters, of course. When it comes to these sort of derby games, you are playing for the supporters.
“Of course, you are playing for yourself and everything that goes with that. But, ultimately, you are on there representing the country and representing every Scotland fan who would love to be on the pitch and do anything to get on the pitch.”
McGregor wasn’t involved in the squad in June 2017 when Griffiths scored his famous deadball double and had to wait until five months later for his international debut.
Reflecting on those two exquisite strikes from his former team-mate, the influential anchorman, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “That was discussed from day one when Joe arrived at Celtic!
CELTIC KEEPERS PAST AND PRESENT…Joe Hart and stand-by shotstopper Fraser Forster at Hampden in June 2017.
“The minute Griff saw him, that was it. Obviously, it was all a bit of a joke and there was banter thrown Joe’s way. Joe’s still adamant it was too far in the corner for him, so we’ll let him off with that one.
“However, it’s another great opportunity against a big nation to stamp our authority as a group and show how far we’ve come.
“Of course, the previous wins have given the group belief and confidence and all these things. You can see that throughout the team.
“We have to approach the game in the same way, it’s a home game and we want to win. If we continually want to progress and get to tournaments, these are the types of games you have to be competitive in on a regular basis.
“That is the task for us tonight.”