First posted on Facebook August 21st, 2016
David Hopkin will be 46 on August 21st. If you’ve read Scotland Epistles #3 you will know that being included in a World Cup card or sticker set does not mean you are going to the World Cup, such a fate befell Mr. Hopkin too. Of course given the photo they used, perhaps David who has been known to make the list of ugliest Premiership players ever, would have preferred to have been omitted.
And yet it looked good at one point, David had gotten himself into the Scotland team just at the right time. He was due to play for Scotland against Wales in late May 1997 but having scored the play off winner for Crystal Palace against Sheffield United at Wembley a couple of days before he called off for the game. However, Craig Brown did not hold it against him and a few days later on June 1st he made his debut in a friendly against Malta in Valetta. Scotland won 3-2 with two goals from Darren Jackson after an early goal for Christian Dailly. David would be substituted early in the second half with Scot Gemmill replacing him, this scenario would be repeated a week later in Minsk, Belarus, as Scotland scraped a one nil win with a Gary McAllister penalty to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
In the summer of 1997, David moved to Leeds United for £3.25million. He would also be named as team Captain under George Graham at Elland Road. David would win his third cap up at Pittodrie against as Scotland cruised to a 4-1 win with Hopkin coming on as a substitute in the 50th minute and making an instant impact with a goal four minutes later. His second and Scotland’s fourth was a great individual effort, which made it seem as though David was going to be an important player for Scotland in years to come.
Alas, it was not to be as David had an indifferent start to his Leeds career, with injuries, suspension and regularly being substituted, all hindering his impact at Elland Road. He would only play one more game prior to the ’98 World Cup, making a one minute appearance against France in November, 1997. The 2-1 defeat would be the start of Scotland going on their longest run without a win, in a run of 9 games that unfortunately included the whole of the World Cup in France. David would return 18 months later in March 1999, starting the infamous game against the Czech Republic at Parkhead, where Gary McAllister was booed by some sections of the Scotland support. Scotland would lose this Euro Championship qualifier 2-1 and McAllister announced his retirement shortly after.
Cap number six would come against Bosnia in Sarajevo in September ‘99 as a makeshift left back. Scotland won 2-1 with goals from Don Hutchison and Billy Dodds. His seventh and final cap came a month later, also against Bosnia at Ibrox, in his more recognised position in midfield as Scotland won one nil with a John Collins penalty.
And that was it for David, if only his Scotland career had progressed the way we hoped it would that night at Pittodrie, but it was not to be. Happy Birthday David Hopkin and thanks for those brief glittering moments all those years ago.