'A lot of my time was spent trying to find Robert Fleck' – Gunny relives his World Cup adventure
From the exhilaration of being involved to the desperation of defeat – former Scotland goalkeeper and Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn knows exactly how it feels to ride the World Cup wave.
He even had the responsibility for ensuring his Norwich City team-mate managed to join him in Scotland’s Italia 90 squad.
A summer in Italy ended up being Gunn’s only World Cup experience – after Roy Hodgson’s Switzerland pipped Scotland to USA 1994 qualification – and his preparations didn’t go to plan.
“I was behind Jim Leighton and Andy Goram but it was still an honour to get chosen to go with Scotland,” recalled Gunn.
“I made my debut against Egypt in the build-up to the World Cup and ended up being embarrassed 3-1 at Pittodrie, where I’d recently moved from. All my friends, family and connections were there. It felt like a smack in the face – in some ways it literally was.
“The first goal was a mix-up between me and Maurice Malpas at the back post, so I didn’t cover myself in glory there. The second one, Gordon Durie decided to chip a back-pass to me and the striker Hossam Hassan, read it.
“I met him around the penalty spot and double-fisted his head. He managed to get a touch on the ball and it ended in the net, while he ended up in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with a sore head. So it wasn’t the best international debut.”
The honour of selection was one thing, but there was no denying the sacrifice that came with it for Gunn.
“I was away from home and Francesca had been born in the April, so it was long-distance phone calls to Susan and things like that; I took pictures with me following her birth as well,” admitted Gunn.
“That was the only real downside for me, being away from a newly born baby for four to six weeks with the training camp and then the actual tournament – not that Scotland lasted in it very long!”
Fortunately Gunn got to share the experience with one of his club-mates – once he’d managed to track him down.
“A lot of my time in our Malta training camp was also spent trying to find Robert Fleck,” added Gunn. “He got called up late to the squad because of an injury and I got asked if I could help. I had several numbers for him but there were no mobile phones that we had back then.
“So it was tracking Flecky down. I think we found him coming back from a holiday in Spain or Greece somewhere. I managed to get word to him and tell him he was called up to the World Cup squad, and he needed to travel to Italy as well. He ended up being my room partner.”
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