When Craig Gordon made his full international debut, at an age when only the very, very best goalkeepers have attained both the physical and strategic abilities to ascend to the top level of the game, it was a popular prediction that he would go on to reach Scotland’s all-time top ten cap holders.
Few would have guessed that it would take him almost 18 years to get here.
That it is only now, after the longest Scotland span in history, that Gordon has reached solo tenth in that roll of honour speaks, in itself, to how hard he has had to scrap to bolt that career together.
Between the ages of 27 and 31, a time which many goalkeepers would consider to be their peak, Gordon was exiled not only from the national team, but any level of competitive football. It is remarkable now to recall that Gordon was widely assumed to be de facto retired eight years ago, after two entire seasons as a free agent following the end of his injury-wrecked time at Sunderland.
Sitting behind first Allan McGregor then David Marshall, Gordon has had to bide his time to reclaim undisputed possession of the number 1 jersey, but patience is not something he could ever have been accused of lacking. Nor is the ability to consistently produce breathtaking saves, another clutch of which was added to his showreel last night.
Gordon’s career clearly never had the chance to reach the extreme heights promised when he entered his twenties, but nor did it end as unfulfilled as seemed inevitable as he reached his thirties. He may yet hit his forties, like the only keeper to represent the nation more often, having led Scotland into World Cup battle: it would be a fitting glory for one of the country’s greatest ever.