Former Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has very fond memories of his side’s fantastic battles with Ireland in their Euro 2016 qualifying group three and a half years ago.
The two sides met home and away in Group D as they battled for third place and a chance at a playoff spot in the qualifiers.
Ireland had been flying high in the group before the first game at Hampden Park in November, as they had taken seven points from a possible nine, including an away draw against the world champions Germany.
Scotland, on the other hand, had lost to Germany, drawn with Poland and beaten Georgia, and knew that a win against Martin O’Neill’s side would be needed to give their chances of qualification a boost.
After a 1-0 victory at Hampden Park in November, Scotland found themselves in pole position to finish ahead of the Boys in Green.
A 1-1 draw in the return fixture at the Aviva Stadium was another positive result for Strachan’s side however a loss to lesser fancied Georgia combined with Ireland’s huge home victory over Germany meant that it was Martin O’Neill and Ireland who grabbed the third spot.
Despite the disappointing end to the campaign, Strachan outlined that he enjoyed the games against Ireland massively, praising the spirit they were played in despite the intensity.
“I really loved the occasions,” began Strachan speaking to Pundit Arena.
“The two occasions I think we ended with about 120,000 fans over the two games, how good is that? The place was rocking! The football wasn’t that great but the place was rocking!”
“We enjoyed the occasions, they were like two cup ties they weren’t like internationals. The players knew each other so well, it was like a derby game.
“Considering the intensity that the games were played at, the behaviour of the players and the fans was really phenomenal, I don’t think we had any trouble on or off the pitch. They were good occasions to be involved with whether you’re a fan or whether you’re a coach or a player.”
Ireland would go on to qualify for the European championships in 2016, defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina in a two-legged play-off, while Scotland ended as the only home nation not to reach the finals.
Stick with Pundit Arena throughout the week for more from Gordon Strachan.
Gordon Strachan is a Paddy Power ambassador, read his columns at news.paddypower.com