There is only thing worse for a football supporter than their country not being part of the finals of a major tournament and that’s watching everyone else enjoy the party.
Manager Gordon Strachan and his Scotland players will have to contemplate what might have been as the month-long festival of football in France kicks off tonight. The manager and his squad will be in good company as some sparking international talent also find themselves having a watching brief.
Germany midfielder Marco Reus was deemed not fit enough to go and received the news last week on his 27th birthday, while injury has also ruled out defenders Raphael Varane, of France, Belgium’s Vincent Kompany and Germany’s Antonio Rudiger.
They are not alone.
German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp had a fine campaign for Paris Saint-Germain, keeping a remarkable 25 clean sheets as his club won the French league title by a whopping 31 points en route to a domestic treble.
It still wasn’t enough to get him a place in Joachim Low’s squad, however, as he finds himself fourth choice behind Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neur, Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno and Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Pepe Reina is another shotstopper who will miss out despite helping Napoli to a second-place finish in Serie A. The former Liverpool goalkeeper was also deemed surplus to requirements by Spain.
Reina is in good company as the European champions have a wealth of talent to choose from.
Isco is not in France either despite helping Real Madrid win their 11th European title while Javi Martinez, of Bayern Munich, is also absent despite making 27 appearances as his club won the treble in Germany and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Chelsea’s Diego Costa has paid the price for a poor campaign in London by missing out on the squad with his 12 goals in his final 20 appearances of the campaign not enough to earn him a seat on the plane to France.
There is no place for Manchester United’s Juan Mata either.
Rounding off the list of Spanish absentees is Fernando Torres. He helped Atletico Madrid reach the Champions League final and challenge for the La Liga title, but the man who scored in the finals of Euro 2008 and 2012 won’t be taking part this time.
The hosts, and one of the favourites, France go into the tournament without midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who scored 18 goals in 36 games for Nice.
Unfortunately for him, Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Dimitri Payet are ahead of him in coach Didier Deschamps’ pecking order.
Perhaps the highest profile absentee from the tournament is Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema. He is fit and in form but has been excluded from selection following his implication in an alleged attempt by a friend to blackmail international team-mate Matthieu Valbuena over a sex tape.
Add in Mario Balotelli, who misses out for Italy due to a poor campaign, Dejan Lovren, who has had a falling out with his Croatia head coach Ante Cacic, and Leicester City’s title-winning midfielder Danny Drinkwater, whose omission from Roy Hodgson’s England squad has been met with derision by many, and clearly Scott Brown and his team-mates are in good company.
Never mind, fellas – there’s always Russia in 2018.