Whatever Happened To…The 2006 Scotland U19 Squad?
Once upon a time, Scotland qualified for the European Championships. Yes they did. Not only that, but they got all the way to the final. YES THEY DID.
In 2006, the under 19 European Championships were held in Poland between the 18th-29th July and featured eight teams. Scotland got out of Group B in second place behind Spain, who embarrassed Scotland 4-0 in the group decider. The Scotland under 19 squad eventually just missed out on winning the trophy, losing 2-1 to Spain in the final in a far superior performance from the group game.
Maybe this squad would be our golden generation – the team to lead us forward. Maybe not to glory, but certainly past the group stages of the senior competitions. Maybe this squad would be the generation who would improve our world standing, and stop us being the laughing stock of British football. Whatever happened to the squad? Did they become our superstars and cement legacies as Scottish superstars? Or was it another false dawn for Scottish football? Let’s find out!
A small side note:the players are listed by squad number. I struggled to find stats on sub appearances so most figures will only be the number of starts each player had.
1 – Andrew McNeil (Played for Hibs and aged 19 at time of tournament. Five appearances)
It looked like the sky was the limit for Andrew after the tournament. He went on to cement a first team place with Hibs in the 2006-07 season, and won a League Cup winner’s medal that season as well as going on to represent Scotland in the u20 World Cup in Canada in 2007.
Unfortunately for Andrew, he lost his place in the Hibs team to Yves Makabu-Makalambay the next season, who was nothing short of awful. McNeil eventually got another run in the team but the writing was on the wall for his Hibs career and he was released in May 2009.
He started working for his father’s gardening company until Third Division Montrose picked him up in September 09, but he left to sign for Raith Rovers in the 09-10 season. He was released from Raith at the end of the season and went to Telford College to start studying for a HND in Sports Coaching. He is currently on the books at Livingston.
2 – Andrew Cave-Brown (Norwich City, aged 17. Five appearances)
Cave-Brown only made one start for Norwich City in a League Cup match against Torquay Utd before being released in 2008, although he did spend eight games on loan at King’s Lynn during his time with the Canaries.
He moved to Leyton Orient where he made 28 league appearances over two seasons before being released from his contract. He then moved to Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Lowestoft Town, where he has scored three times in 45 league games.
3 – Lee Wallace (Hearts, aged 18. Five appearances)
Lee is one of the success stories from the squad. He also went on to the World Cup in Canada in 2007 and made three appearances. Lee signed professional terms with Hearts in 2004 and was already making sporadic appearances for their first team by the time this tournament rolled around. He played nine times for the Scotland u21 team between 2007-08.
Wallace made 158 appearances in all competitions scoring four goals for Hearts until the summer of 2011, where he moved to Rangers for £1.5m. Lee has also got five caps for the senior Scotland team.
4 – Charles Grant (Celtic, aged 19. Four appearances)
The 2006 tournament was as far as Charlie would ever go in the game. He was riddled with back, pelvis and groin injuries after Poland and never made an appearance for the Celtic first team. He moved to Dundee in the 2010-11 season but only played twice before being released when the club entered administration. In April 2011 he retired from professional football aged just 24, and will probably be remembered for a freak injury suffered from his own bed, picking up a skelf in his toe which then became inflamed and caused him to pass out.
5 – Garry Kenneth (Dundee Utd, aged 19. Did not appear)
Garry has played for Scotland at all levels, including being capped twice for the senior team. Garry looked like another player with potential, despite not appearing in the championships. By 2006, he had already appeared in a Scottish Cup final for The Terrors and was a fixture in their first XI.
In 2007, manager Craig Levein sent him on loan to Cowdenbeath to sort out perceived attitude problems with the youngster and it seemed to do the trick, setting his career back on track. He was subject to a £500,000 bid from Blackpool in January 2010 and won the Scottish Cup later that season. He will be leaving the Tannadice club at the end of the season and is expected to try his luck in England.
6 – Scott Cuthbert (Celtic, aged 19. Captain, five appearances)
The 2006 team captain also went on to captain the Celtic youth and reserve teams. While under contract, he spent loan spells at Livingston and St Mirren, and was particularly impressive for the Saints. He never made a first team appearance for Celtic and left the club for Swindon Town in 2009, despite interest from St Mirren. Scott currently plays for League One outfit Leyton Orient.
7 – Simon Ferry (Celtic, aged 18. Five appearances)
Simon was expected to make an impact in the Celtic first team after this tournament, but things never quite worked out that way, mainly due to injuries. He left the club without making an appearance and moved to Swindon Town for £300,000 in 2010, where he has become an integral part of the first team.
8 – Calum Elliot (Hearts, aged 19. Four appearances)
Calum was another member of the squad who was a regular member of the Hearts first team. In the 2005-06 season Calum made 24 league appearances, scoring five times. The next season he moved to Motherwell on loan to ensure he continued to receive first team football. He continued to sporadically play for Hearts in the ensuing seasons, and showed a lot of his true potential at Livingston.
During a loan spell at Almondvale, he scored eleven times in thirteen games.
Calum left Hearts at the turn of the year due to their financial difficulties and moved to Lithuanian team Žalgiris Vilnius on a two year contract. At the time of writing, he has scored a staggering seven goals in four games.
9 – Steven Fletcher (Hibs, aged 19. Four appearances)
Fletch is possibly the best player to emerge from this squad. Steven has played for Scotland at all levels and has been capped eight times for the senior team, scoring once. However he hasn’t played for Scotland since 2010 after falling out with Craig Levein.
Steven was the first choice striker for Hibs by the time the tournament rolled around and eventually scored 43 goals in 156 league games for the club. During his time at Hibs, he won the Scottish League Cup with Andrew McNeil, and also won the Scottish Football Writers’ Young Player of the Year Award in the 2007-08 season and was scouted by the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City and Middlesbrough.
He moved to Burnley in 2009, the Lancashire club breaking their record fee and paying £3 million for him. He finished Burnley’s only Premier League season as their top scorer with eight goals and was named Burnley Players’ Player of the Year. He moved to Wolves for another club record fee of £6 million in the 2010-11 season, where he has scored 20 goals in 54 league appearances. A move to a bigger club surely beckons.
10 - Michael McGlinchey (Celtic, aged 19. Four appearances)
Michael is the only member of the 2006 team to make it to a World Cup finals squad, as he changed allegiance to the country of his birth, New Zealand in 2009 and was named in the All Whites squad for the 2010 World Cup, although he didn’t make it off the bench.
Before the competition, Celtic manager Martin O’Neill convinced the youngster to reject advances from Manchester Utd and sign his first professional contract with Celtic. He was rewarded by making his début against Livingston in December 2005. It was to be his only appearance for the club however and despite impressing in a loan spell at Dunfermline in 2007, he was released by the club when his contract expired in May 2009.
He moved to Australian outfit Central Coast Mariners on a two year deal and remains there. He has been capped 11 times by New Zealand, scoring one goal.
11 – Robert Snodgrass (Livingston, aged 18. Two appearances)
Robert was offered a youth contract at Celtic, Clyde and Livingston, but chose Livi as they provided transport for them to get to training and back home to the Gallowgate area of Glasgow. During his five year stay at Livingston, Blackburn offered him his first professional contract but he accepted Livi’s offer, and famously declined the offer of a trial with Spanish giants Barcelona!
He scored 15 times in 79 games for Livingston before moving to Leeds in 2008. Snoddy immediately settled into the team and helped them get promotion from League One in the 2009-10 season, being named in the PFA Team of the Year in the process.
He is currently club captain at Elland Road and has been capped by the senior team five times, scoring once.
12 – Scott Fox (Celtic, aged 19. Did not appear)
Fox never appeared for Celtic (notice a pattern?) and left to join Queen of the South on amateur terms in January 2010. He moved to Dundee at the start of the 2010-11 season, appearing twice before being released due to the club entering administration.
He moved to Partick Thistle where he was named their Player of the Year last season.
14 – Graham Dorrans (Livingston, aged 19. One sub appearance)
Graham had spent the season before the tournament on loan at Partick Thistle, scoring five times in 15 games, and his form led to the call-up for the tournament.
After the competition he made the breakthrough into the Livingston first team and started to show off his talent and potential. He played for Livi 77 times, scoring 16 goals and being named the Scottish First Division Player of the Year in the 2007-08 season. His form led to a move to West Brom, where he has went for strength to strength and become a quality Premier League player.
He has been capped eight times for Scotland, making his début in 2009 in a friendly against Japan.
15 – Ryan Conroy (Celtic, aged 19. Three appearances)
Ryan was highly thought of at Celtic, and made two appearances in the first team not long after the tournament finished. He spent time at both Partick Thistle and Queen of the South in 2010 and impressed in these loan spells.
He left Parkhead at the end of last season and moved to Dundee, where he has been in fantastic form, scoring 10 goals in 30 games.
16 – Greg Cameron (Dundee Utd, aged 18. Three appearances)
Greg only appeared 34 times from 2004-2010 for Dundee Utd, most of those appearances in the 2005-06 season. He was loaned out several times during this time, most notably to Shamrock Rovers in 2009, making 14 appearances for the Irish club.
He seems to have disappeared off the radar completely in football terms after being released from Tannadice.
17 – Brian Gilmour (Rangers, aged 19. One sub appearance)
Brian has represented his country from U13 to U20 levels. He started his career at Rangers but frankly was never going to make a first team breakthrough, and left for Clyde in February 2007. He played 13 times for the Bully Wee, but left the club at the end of the season for Queen of the South.
He played 33 times for the Palmerston outfit before leaving for Finnish team FC Haka at the start of the Finnish 2008 season. He only played nine times before asking for his release. Brian went on trial at Blackpool once he left Finland, but never did enough to secure a permanent deal.
He then played for Lincoln City and Stenhousemuir before moving to Icelandic second division team Knattspyrnufélag Akureyrar in July 2011.
My Icelandic is crap, so if you can pronounce the team name or can figure out how he’s getting on there, let me know.
18 – Mark Reynolds (Motherwell, aged 19. One appearance)
Reynolds had made just one professional appearance before Poland 2006, and only played once there. After the competition, he went down to become a first team regular for the ‘Well, playing in 166 league games from 2005-2011. His form in 2008 led to a bid from Rangers, but Motherwell rejected it.
He never quite reached that level of form again during this Motherwell tenure, although Swansea came sniffing in August 2010, although that bid was rejected too.
He eventually moved to Sheffield Wednesday in 2011, making 10 appearances for the Owls. He is currently back in the SPL, on loan at Aberdeen.
19 – Jamie Adams (Kilmarnock, aged 18. Three appearances)
Last but by no means least! Jamie is most famous for being involved in a controversial Scottish Cup incident. He played twice in the cup for Queen of the South while on loan in 2007 but due to being named on the Kilmarnock bench, was deemed to be cup-tied and therefore ineligible.
He only played for Kilmarnock twice, but during this time at Rugby Park he was loaned to Queen of the South a staggering FOUR times. Must be some sort of record surely?? He left Killie for St.Johnstone in 2011.
So there we have it. The 2006 u19 squad was a squad full of potential and full of talent. It was also full of hope for Scottish football fans. We hoped this squad would go onto bigger and better things, and for quite a few of the players, they certainly did.
From players going to the World Cup for another nation to players simply disappearing off the face of the earth, the fortunes of these 18 men have been extremely varied.
So we didn’t get our golden generation from 2006. But we certainly did get a lot of Scottish internationalists, and the future still looks bright for Scottish football. Maybe the next tournament will bring our golden generation along.
A man can but dream…