Nov 172014

Graeme Sharp will be green with envy when fellow Scot and Evertonian Steven Naismith runs out at Celtic Park on Tuesday night.

The Blues legend played 12 times for his country, including a World Cup match against Uruguay in Mexico, but missed out on the international he most wanted to feature in – a Scotland-England clash.

What makes the pain even more acute is that Sharp was actually down to face the auld enemy at Hampden Park in 1985, until football bureaucracy intervened.

“I was gutted,” said Sharp, named on Monday as one Everton’s three new club ambassadors.

“I was down to play against England at Hampden but because Everton were involved in an end of season game against Coventry, who were fighting against relegation, teams were complaining that Everton had to play their strongest team.

“So I was called back from Gleneagles where Scotland were training.

“I was absolutely gutted. I missed out on probably the biggest game at international level, an England against Scotland match, for a nothing game against Coventry.

“And we got beat.

“After that game at Coventry, Andy Gray and myself flew down to Heathrow to go out to Iceland for a World Cup qualifier.

“But as far as England went, that was it. It was one of my biggest disappointments never playing against England.”

Everton had long since wrapped up a League and European Cup Winners’ Cup double, but the demands of their fixture list meant that their season didn’t end until May 28 – and an Everton FC team which had long since switched off after a stunningly successful campaign went down 4-1.

Naismith, however, will relish the high octane atmosphere at Celtic Park and such is his influence at Everton now Sharp is keeping his fingers crossed he comes back safely.

“Naisy has been brilliant and I thought he was great against the Republic of Ireland the other night as well,” he said.

“The game against Ireland was a proper old fashioned British game and it will probably be the same again on Tuesday night.

“So hopefully, we can get all our players back injury free. If Naisy can put one over on England he will certainly get a good reception from me when he comes back!

“Gordon Strachan has revitalised the team, very similar to when Walter was in charge, and there have been peaks and troughs and Gordon looks to be the man who is turning things around. It looks like the players want to play for him.”

Matches between Scotland and England north of the border are few and far between.

The last was in 1999 when Paul Scholes scored twice in a European Championship play-off. But Sharp would love to see them made a more regular fixture in the calendar.

“Back in our day there were the Home Internationals which were great, and that’s not going to come back,” he added. “But certainly in those Home Internationals the biggest game was always England versus Scotland and there’s always a place for that.

“The difficulty is squeezing it into the calendar. They are wonderful occasions.

“I remember going to Hampden Park to watch England against Scotland Scotland won 2-0, there 100,000 in there, Scotland won 2-0 on the day and Jimmy Johnstone scored.

“As a Scotland fan those games and those atmospheres at Hampden Park were incredible.

“Okay, this is at Celtic Park but it will be electric again. The game against England this time is an interesting one.

“Both managers will be looking at it thinking we can do without this … because it won’t be a friendly.

“I’d be surprised if England’s main players play. I think they will experiment a bit and Scotland will try and go quite strong.

“It should be a good game.”

In pictures: Remembering the day Graeme Sharp shook the Kop for Everton FC

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