First posted on Facebook on October 11th, 2016
Happy Birthday to Steven Pressley who turns 43 today. Steven was capped at Under-21 level, 27 times, gaining 14 with Rangers, 7 with Coventry City and 6 with Dundee United. The high volume was due to the halcyon days when we were invited to the Toulon Under-21 tournament every year. The picture shows him scoring his only Scotland goal in a 1-0 win over the mighty San Marino away from home.
All 32 of his full caps would come as a Hearts player. His first was in March, 2000 as Scotland played a friendly v France at Hampden coming on in the second half for Paul Ritchie. Scotland lost 2-0 with both goals coming in the second half. His next cap, a couple of months later, was one of those embarrassing ones, when your team is winning in a meaningless friendly but the Manager, in this case, Craig Brown wants to run down the clock and so in the ninetieth minute Steven was brought on to replace Neil McCann at Lansdowne Road as Scotland were grimly holding on to a 2-1 lead; which is how it finished.
It would be under Berti Vogts that Steven would begin to make his mark in the Scotland side returning to the team in a Euro Qualifier away against Iceland in October, 2002. He would then become a regular in the team for the next few years. Steven would play in some big games around this time including the home and away ties against Germany in the 2004 Euro Qualifiers. Scotland would draw 1-1 at Hampden and lose 2-1 in Dortmund (“Dirty diving Bastards” according to Christian Dailly).
He would also play in the play-offs v Netherlands at Hampden where Darren Fletcher and James McFadden conjured up a magical moment for us all. Unfortunately, it was more tragic than magic a few days later.
He would captain Scotland on only one occasion, ironically at Easter Road and rather unusually for a Berti Vogts friendly, we won 4-1 against Trinidad & Tobago, thanks to goals from Fletcher, Gary Holt, Gary Caldwell and Nigel Quashie. Steven was winning his 19th cap that day.
He was missing for the last few games of Vogts’ tenure but was back in the line-up for Walter Smith’s first game in charge against Italy in Milan where Andrea Pirlo hit two wonderful free kicks to give Italy the victory.
Steven’s penultimate cap would come in the 1-0 win over France at Hampden in October, 2006 with Gary Caldwell providing the Goalden moment. However, he went from that high to the low of being sent off against Ukraine in Kiev as the Scots lost their first game of the 2008 Qualifiers a few days later.
With Steven suspended, newly installed Manager Alex McLeish went with Stephen McManus instead and it was McManus who would retain the Centre Half spot and deny Pressley any more Scotland caps.
Steven would of course move on to Celtic, Randers in Denmark (another for our Scotland Players Abroad section) and finally Falkirk before moving into management. He is of course involved in the current Scotland set up having been asked to scout on the Slovenia / Slovakia game a few days ago. Let’s hope he’s done his homework properly.
Happy Birthday Stephen and all the best.