Don Hutchison is the latest recruit to Scotland’s Star Sixes squad – and says he can’t wait to face the ‘Auld Enemy’ in a recreation of 1999’s infamous Battle of Britain.
The much-travelled midfielder played for a host of leading clubs, including Liverpool, West Ham, Everton, Sunderland and Sheffield United, but is best remembered by many for his winning goal as Scotland beat England at Wembley in the play-offs ahead of EURO 2000.
Hutchison headed past David Seaman to record a rare victory, although it was not enough to overturn the 2-0 win Paul Scholes had given England from the first leg at Hampden Park.
But Hutchison remembers that goal, and that game, as the proudest moments of a long and varied career – which will be reinvigorated when he again comes face to face with some of the biggest names in world football at the inaugural Star Sixes international football tournament at The O2 Arena in July.
Hutchison, who bagged six goals in 26 international appearances, joins up with his former teammate, and roommate, Dominic Matteo in the Scotland team, and says: “It is going to be absolutely brilliant and I can’t wait for it to start.
“I’ve played in tournaments around the world since retiring but none of them has ever had such a stellar line-up, not just with great players, but also so many who were still playing recently.
“England have Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey, who have only just quit, and then you look at Robert Pirès, who is still training with Arsenal.
“And the sheer calibre of players involved is incredible – Roberto Carlos, Michael Ballack, Jay-Jay Okocha, and many more.”
But the game he wants more than any other is England, which brings back memories of 1999: “It was my proudest moment,” he recalls.
“The first game at Hampden still haunts me, and there were a lot of recriminations in the dressing room about who should have been picking up Scholes. But in a way that did us a favour, because we had to go out at Wembley and take the game to England, and we absolutely dominated them from back to front.
“Kevin Keegan had Michael Owen and Alan Shearer up front, but they barely had a sniff. They had Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Gareth Southgate at the back, but Neil McCann gave them a torrid time, and in midfield we won the battle against the likes of Scholes and David Beckham.”
Hutchison head home a McCann cross for the only goal of the game, towering above Adam, and he said: “My Dad was a proud Scot who came to every game I played. He was 6ft 4, tough as old boots, and had been a miner for 34 years, yet he was struggling to hold back tears of joy when he saw me afterwards.
“That is what it meant to us and I’d love to recreate that feeling at Star Sixes. It is bound to be properly competitive.”
He is certain the Tartan Army will turn up at The O2 Arena in huge numbers to support Scotland come July. “Whenever I played for Scotland their support was incredible, both home and away. I am sure they will turn out in force for Star Sixes.”
And while he is relishing the prospect of facing some of the world’s great players again, he can’t wait to catch up with Matteo, who will captain Scotland. The pair played together at Liverpool as well as Scotland, and Hutchison adds: “He was my roommate on international duty, so it will be great to catch up again. I just hope his cooking skills have improved since then!”
Tickets for the first Star Sixes international football tournament are now available to buy online from The O2, with prices starting at just £30 for adults and £10 for children. Visit Ticketmaster or AXS to book.