Paul Dickov, who went on to be a full international, scored in the final against Saudi Arabia
Paul Dickov, who went on to be a full international, scored in the final against Saudi Arabia

The greatest player in the history of the game. There were sell outs at the two places. There will be future superstars. Saudis have questionable passports. Hair on the face. There were penalty shoot outs. A girl is standing up. A club in Amsterdam. Bus drivers buy booze for children. There is a party. Craig Brown was also present.

The under-16 World Cup finals of 1989 have been woven into the tapestry of Scottish football as one of the seemingly endless series of 'could ye, did ye, have ye' moments to befall those representing the national team'. The World Cup final loss to Saudi Arabia, in which they missed a penalty with 18 minutes to go, stands out for its utter fecklessness.

The Saudis may not have followed the 'under-16' competition criteria the same way as the Scots, but to lose from the position they were in in Glasgow seems careless.

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Manager Brown has adopted a more sanguine attitude to what remains one of the highlights of his career after 33 years. He says that the tournament they were in was overambitious. We just wanted to get out of the groups.

It's much more. In the year before the finals, Brown was summoned by the SFA secretary and told he would be taking over the under-16 side.

Brown said that he was intimidated by his former colleague. The success of the tournament was dependent on the success of the Scottish team. I was told if there was anything they could do to help.

Brown arranged for his prospective finals squad to act as runners for the Scottish FA's coaching courses at Largs in order to expose them to the likes of Alex Ferguson, Jim McLean and Walter Smith, and was determined to arrange as many matches as he could.

It was a tight group because we traveled all around Europe together. There was a lot of fun and silly things going on. We went to a nightclub when we were 15.

It did serve the young Scots well, despite Brown's desire to make sure they were the best-drilled team in the finals. Every night they were together, the manager could be found huddling along the corridors of their quarters and demanding 50 trunk curls, sit-ups or press-ups from the likes of McLaren, Paul Dickov and Brian O'Neil.

Three people started the opening game of the finals and went on to play important roles in a tournament that captured the imagination of the public.

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Group stages

Scotland did not make it to the 10th. There is a man in this picture It was att: 6,500.

Scotland defeated Cuba 2-0. There is a park. Att: 9000.

Scotland and Bahrain played out a draw on 14 June. There is a park. It was att 13,500.

McLaren remembers shaking the hand of the great man before the first game, but that was one of the few highlights of the tournament. Kevin Bain missed a penalty and the game ended in a stalemate, with just 6,500 fans in attendance. Bain tried to put his laces through it after the keeper saved it. It went over the bar.

A point was considered a reasonable start against a side containing Nii Lamptey at that time.

A larger crowd gathered at Fir Park a couple of days later to watch a comprehensive clubbing of Cuba, with three goals in nine first-half minutes - two from Morton attacker Kevin McGoldrick adding to an opener from John Lindsay.

A crowd of 13,500 turned up at Fir Park to see James Beattie put the Scots in front, but they were only able to hold on for a draw.

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The GDR lost to Scotland on 17 June. The city of Pittodrie is located in Scotland. 10,200 was the att.

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Failure to win the group meant a last-eight meeting with Brazil was avoided, but the second-best side in Europe remained ominous.

Brown's boys failed to make the semi-finals of the European Under-16 Championships after losing to the USSR and drawing with Italy in their first two group games.

The Portuguese taught the East Germans a lesson after they beat France in the last four and then lost to them in the final.

The East Germans looked comfortable in their surroundings when they were based in Aberdeen for their group games. Manager Brown talks of the night when things clicked for his side, but captain Bain has a different recollection. He said that they got battered. Big Jim Will kept us in the game.

Scotland went in search of a winner as the regulation wore on. Lindsay headed for goal after picking up a loose ball in the center circle. He beat the last defender and shot low and hard to score, sending Scotland into the semi-finals.

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Portugal lost to Scotland. There is a castle in the area. There were 29,000 att.

Ask those old enough what they remember of the '89 tournament and most will talk about bearded Saudis. Although anecdotal evidence suggests many, many more fans were locked out, the official figure is 29,000. There were people sitting on the track, but there was a large crowd on the bus. It was really rocking.

Kick-off was delayed for 40 minutes. Bain said that they went out 10 minutes before the game started. We were stuck on the pitch for 40 minutes because there were so many people milling around.

The Portuguese were doing the same things in the other half of the field. Luis Figo, who went on to play for St Johnstone, was one of the players who went on to play for Real Madrid.

The contest was described as "the artisans of Portugal v the pragmatic Scots" but the pragmatists would teach the artisans a lesson after O'Neil scored the only goal. The scorer said that they played well that night, even though they were the favorites to win the tournament.

Bain was marked with great awareness and authority by the Scottish captain, according to a report from the world governing body. Both Bain and the Portuguese star had similar paths in the intervening years, with Bain's attempts to carve out a career at Dundee hampered by injury and the Portuguese star having similar issues.

Angel Gomes is an England Under-16 international who plays for Manchester United and Kevin's son is a Ross County employee.

In the Under-16 World Cup, only one leader has led their nation.

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Saudi Arabia and Scotland were tied 2-2 on 24 June. Saudi Arabia defeated a team on pens. There is a man in this picture There were 58,000 att.

Scotland team

What is it like to lead out Scotland in a final? Bain sheepishly said he couldn't remember. I remember trying to get through the traffic on the bus but I can't remember leading the team out and the game is a blur.

This group of 15 and 16-year-olds had gone from being completely unrecognisable to national heroes in a couple of weeks. McLaren says that "most of us were just coming out of school and suddenly we were the biggest thing in Scotland."

O'Neil talks about how strange the build-up was and how people would recognize them. The team base in Largs was being filmed by the TV cameras the night before the final, according to Bain.

58,000 people watched Scotland and Saudi Arabia try to win the world title in the same stadium. Some concerns crept in as the teams lined up, despite the Scots being understandably confident.

I was one of the younger ones but the Saudi boys had full-grown beards. McLaren was fit for the final despite missing most of the tournament with a calf injury. People who had seen them earlier in the tournament said they looked mid-20s.

The squad list shows that the Saudis were all born in the last five months of 1972, so they were at the upper limit of the age restriction. This can be explained by the fact that in this part of the world, mental and physical development is at an earlier stage.

Ian Downie and Dickov gave the Scots a 2-0 lead. Dickov created Downie's seventh-minute opener, eluding his marker and crossing for the Aberdeen captain to head high into the net, then he doubled the advantage himself, pouncing on a loose ball and chipping Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al. Dickov said they thought they were world-beaters at that time.

It seemed that they would be when Gary Bollan was hauled down after a coruscating run and a penalty was awarded in the 18th minute of the 80th minute. O'Neil stepped up, but Al-Deayea saved the day. Bain says that if they had scored, they would have won. If they were 16 or 26 it wouldn't matter.

SFA secretary Walker said it was very much the other way around. He told the Daily Record that he and his friends were cheated. The Saudi keeper resembled Peter Shilton. One of the players in the under-16 World Cup was married with three children and a captain in the Royal Guard, yet he was playing. Everyone acknowledged that we were done, but they didn't prove it was the problem.

The $35,000 reward put in trusts for each of the victorious Saudi players to cash in once they reached the age of 35 was claimed sooner than it might have been for a few of them according to Brown.

O'Neil isn't sure if he was cheated out of a World Cup win. He says that some cultures are more mature than others. People in that culture tend to have facial hair at a younger age than people in our culture. The person is grasping at straws.

Scotland's players thank the fans

The Saudis scored two goals to force the game into extra-time despite being reduced to 10 men. We held on to 2-2 because we were towing caravans. We should not have taken it to spot-kicks.

However, they did. At least five exhausted teenagers had to summon up the courage to take a penalty in a World Cup final. Do you feel nervous? McLaren said there was no chance. I had practiced for that moment since I first kicked a ball. It is what I wanted to do when I was a kid. I believe I was the first to put my hand up when you were pretending to take a penalty. My mother and father were in the crowd. My maw covered her face because she didn't want me to take one, so I held my fingers up.

Some people were not as confident. Dickov missed the first kick and, although one of the Saudis also made a mistake from the spot, the second failure of the day proved decisive. The former Celtic kid said nobody fancied it. I stepped up and it was terrible. I was not very good at them.

O'Neil's day got worse if Brown is correct. The manager says that Brian stood up for himself at George Square after meeting him. He missed two penalties and got a dessert. I told him that he deserved it because he missed two penalties in the final.

Even if the duo can't agree on how the majority of the squad got to defender Eddie Conville's house in Bishopbriggs, O'Neil tells a different story. The keys to Eddie's old place were still in his parents' possession. The bus driver had an off licence.

It was taxis that got us to Eddie's house. I had to go to the airport the next day because I was going to America with Celtic. I don't know what old broon is saying about me and a bird. A lot of the boys did well that night.

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What happened next?

They were back to being 15 and 16-year-olds struggling to establish themselves as professional football players. Brown acknowledges that most of his squad were okay, at best, individually, and only three of the 18 would go on to win full international caps.

Neil Murray won a domestic treble with Rangers, David Hagen won the First Division with Livingston, and Scott Marshall made 27 appearances for the club.

Other people fell victim to an assortment of misfortunes, such as knee injuries for defenders Conville and Tom McMillan, or simply fell out of love with the game. Will, who was the player of the tournament, dropped down the leagues before joining the police, as did Celtic's Jim Beattie, Aberdeen's Downie, and Morton's McGoldrick.

Bain is a sales manager for a car company in Kirkcaldy. It was difficult for a lot of the guys to get into their teams. There are things you could have done differently, but I don't have any regrets.