Yep, it’s one of Hans-Hubert’s boys; Gareth Williams future star of the Scotland team was how he was portrayed at the time by Berti. Sadly, once again I must point out to you Ladies and Gentlemen to the curse of Berti. Yep, Gareth Williams, another one who’s career ended prematurely or went up the spout for a couple of years. Don’t believe in such a thing. Well, look who was among the debutees in the five games Gareth played for the national side; Robbie Stockdale (retired aged 29), Michael Stewart (retired aged 30), Maurice Ross (retired aged 30), Kevin Kyle (retired aged 33), Lee Wilkie . . . do I really need to go on?
Anyway back to the luckless Gareth, who started his Scotland career whilst a Nottingham Forest player. Gareth was lucky in one respect he wasn’t chosen for Berti’s first game in charge that mighty mauling in Paris by France but was given a starting berth for the next game against Nigeria up at Pittodrie on 17th April 2002. Despite Christian Dailly scoring in seven minutes the Scots were to lose the game 2-1. Gareth would make way for Michael Stewart of Manchester United in the 64th minute when the scores were still level.
Next up was the Far East tour of 2002, whilst everyone else was getting ready for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, we had to make do with this travesty.
The first came in a future World Cup stadium against South Korea in Busan; the Scots would lose 4-1 with West Brom’s Scott Dobie scoring his only Scotland goal on his debut. Gareth came on at half time in place of Garry O’Connor probably to shore up the midfield unfortunately it was only one nil at half time. To be fair, South Korea performed very well in the World Cup beating Poland and Portugal in the group stages then beating Italy and Spain (on penalties) in the knock out phase before going out to a narrow defeat to Germany in the Semi-Finals.

South Africa also did themselves proud in the World Cup, just missing out in the knock out stages after beating Slovenia, drawing with Paraguay and losing 3-2 to Spain. On their way to the World Cup they met Scotland in Hong Kong as part of the Reunification Cup tournament. The Scots were beaten two-nil in front of a crowd of 3007. Gareth would start in this game being replaced by Scott Severin of Hearts in the 77th minute. This game would also mark the debut of James McFadden, another whose career is on the scrapyard prematurely.

Finally a win for Bert’s boys against the might of the Hong Kong League XI. “Jackie Chan, Jackie Chan (not to be confused with Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan), Yun-Fat Chow, Sally Phillips and a host of others. We gave your boys a hell of a beating, a hell of a beating”.
Yep, we did with goals from Kevin Kyle, Steven Thompson, Christian Dailly (ah who can forget Christian shouting “ F**kin Diving Bastards in the background, with Berti on mike saying “Christian, Christian” trying to calm him down in his Germanic tones after the 2-1 defeat to Germany in September 2003.) And a final goal from Scot Gemmill. Gareth had come on in 60th minute for Allan Johnston.
Gareth’s final game came in the torrential rain of Braga as Portugal beat Scotland 2-0 coming on as a sub for Paul Lambert in the 60th minute.
Although he would go on to win caps for the Under 21’s and would make moves from Forest for Leicester and then Watford; making his debut in EPL for them in February 2007. Gareth only played twice more for Watford before suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury which despite six operations never healed fully and he retired in 2009.
His profile for Four Four Two makes quite sad reading when you think of how things ended for him. In Five Years’ Time I’ll be in . . . The Premiership . . . established in the Scotland team. If all goes to plan I’d love to be part of the next World Cup.”
Still it’s not all doom and gloom as his celebrity wife would be Natalie Portman. Ok, she’s not quite Hattie Jacques but if she’s good enough for Thor she’ll do for me too.


David Stuart

First posted On Facebook September 20th, 2015