'I never gave up' - Celtic star reveals World Cup dream
By James Black
Celtic and Scotland number one Craig Gordon has admitted he “never gave up” on Scotland’s World Cup dream as they sit 90 minutes away from securing a play-off place for next summer’s finals in Russia.
A win over Slovenia in Ljubjana on Sunday will earn the Scots a place in next month’s play-offs after failing to qualify for a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France.
Gordon Strachan’s side needed an 88th minute own goal from Martin Skrtel to take three points against Slovakia on Thursday but Gordon believes the Scots will need to play better in Sunday’s final qualifying game.
“I never gave up on this campaign,” Celtic star Gordon said, as quoted by The Scotsman.
“We knew it was going to be difficult to qualify and it’s still going to be difficult.
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“We still need to go to Slovenia and win, and even if we do that, we’ll have a double-header in the play-offs against another team who have finished second in their group.
“So it’s still a fair distance away.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, we’ve kept it going to the last game and given ourselves a great chance, which is what we needed to do.
“The atmosphere is great in the squad at the moment.
“To win a game the way we did against Slovakia is always going to help us bounce into the next game with an uplifting feeling.”
Gordon missed several years of senior football after a string of serious injuries threatened to end his top-level career but the former Hearts and Sunderland ‘keeper fought back and eventually returned with Celtic in 2014 and has since gone from strength to strength.
The 34-year-old has kept seven clean sheets in ten appearances since returning to the international fold – including three in as many games – and Gordon is now aiming become the first Scottish ‘keeper to record a fourth shut-out in a row for the first time since Jim Leighton during the Euro 96 qualifying campaign, telling The Scotsman: “The three clean sheets in a row is massive from my point of view.”
“That’s a good place to start to try and win any game.
“It took us until almost the last minute to find a way past the Slovakian keeper, who was fantastic, so it was nice to finally see the ball go past him.
“I’ll need to look it up to see when the last time we kept four clean sheets was.”
As well as recording a third consecutive clean sheet in the game against Slovakia, Gordon also won his 50th cap for Scotland and takes his place in the Scottish football Hall of Fame.