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Scotland sweep to U18 triumph

The 1982 UEFA European Under-18 Championship in Finland provided Scotland's first continental success, defeating a fine Dutch side on the way.

Future senior team managers Andy Roxburgh (centre) and Walter Smith (right) led Scotland to glory in 1982
Future senior team managers Andy Roxburgh (centre) and Walter Smith (right) led Scotland to glory in 1982 ©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

While England had dominated the former International Youth Tournament, neighbours Scotland lost all six of their semi-finals. But in the second UEFA European Under-18 Championship, the Scots began by eliminating their arch-rivals and ended by lifting their first continental trophy at any level.

Finland were selected as hosts for the 16-team finals, and holders West Germany won the only three-team qualifying group with a perfect record against France and Luxembourg. In other notable preliminaries, the Netherlands and Yugoslavia defeated Wales and Turkey respectively on penalties, the Republic of Ireland overturned a first-leg deficit to beat Northern Ireland and Scotland eliminated England 3-2 overall.

Hosts Finland launched the tournament with 2-1 loss to Czechoslovakia. Also in Group C, Portugal overcame Hungary by the same score and then drew 1-1 with Czechoslovakia while Finland bounced back 3-2 against Hungary. However, the hosts then finished 1-1 against Portugal, allowing Czechoslovakia to claim the sole semi-final berth with a 2-0 win against the Hungarians.

West Germany were drawn in Group A and they began their defence by beating Ireland 1-0. But the Soviet Union, surprise non-qualifiers in 1981, were in determined mood, defeating Austria 4-1 and Ireland 2-0. That gave them a two-point lead as Austria gained a 4-1 win against West Germany, who then lost 1-0 to the USSR to surrender their title. Austria finished second after overcoming Ireland 4-2.

Poland, beaten finalists the year before, won 1-0 against both Belgium and Spain. The Spanish lost 2-1 to Bulgaria, who then fell 1-0 to Belgium. That meant Belgium's closing 3-1 win against Spain gave them hope, but Poland got the point they needed in a goalless game with Bulgaria.

Scotland, meanwhile, were showing fine form in Group D, beating Albania 3-0 and Turkey 2-0. Since the Netherlands, containing the nucleus of their 1988 senior European champions, could only defeat those teams 3-1, Scotland needed only to draw with the Dutch in their decider and did so as Marco van Basten's opener was cancelled out late on by Gary McGinnis. It was also 1-1 between Turkey and Albania in what was to prove the latter's only U18 finals.

The Scots continued their winning ways in the semi-finals, triumphing 2-0 against Poland. Czechoslovakia scored the only goal versus the Soviet Union, who subsequently beat Poland 3-1 for third place. In the final Scotland defeated Czechoslovakia by the same scoreline, Gary Mackay, Pat Nevin and John Phillibe on target for a team coached by future senior team managers Andy Roxburgh and Walter Smith.