This edition of Historical Football is a little bit different than usual as this time we look at the Scotsmen who have graced Germany’s top flight – the Bundesliga – ahead of the massive European Championship qualifier…
There is a rather strange phenomenon in the United Kingdom where the vast majority of players will remain within one of the four individual countries to play. Very rarely will they stray abroad to ply their trade and even rarer are the instances of them plying their trade in the Bundesliga. With Scotland hosting Germany in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, we take a look at the seven Scotsmen that have played in the Bundesliga…
Born in Dortmund (which if you know your geography is in Germany), Mennie was actually a Scot and certainly played like one. Not only the first Scotsman to ever grace the Bundesliga but the first to score as well, Mennie’s 29 Bundesliga appearances were both historic and forgettable.
Sadly, the rest of Vincent’s career was rather forgettable as well. Sold to Dundee, Mennie is (as one fan on a forum has put it) “probably the most maligned Dundee player of all time”. Expecting a continental midfield maestro from Germany, Dundee fans were rather disappointed when they got a tough man in the middle who occasionally played a bit. By 1990, he was in the lower leagues of German football.
A year after Mennie made history, a second Scotsman arrived in Germany. A part of Aberdeen’s legendary Cup Winners’ Cup side of 1983, McGhee was in hot demand in Germany and Italy but Hamburg won the race after none other than Gunter Netzer flew out to Aberdeen to covince McGhee to join.
With the legendary Ernst Happel in charge (“an old man and a cantankerous sort of type” ), McGhee’s time at Hamburg was an interesting one. With the Austrian coach refusing to speak to McGhee without a translator and a number of niggling injuries, McGhee would return to Scotland after just 16 months.
It wasn’t all negative for him however. Seven Bundesliga goals was a reasonable return including an outrageous winner against Bayern Munich from the corner of the box while McGhee would state that he loved life off the pitch meaning it wasn’t all for nought.
A Celtic stalwart for nearly a decade, MacLeod took the risk of rejecting Celtic’s new deal in 1987 and chanced his arm abroad with Borussia Dortmund. The move would prove to be a successful one for MacLeod as well.
Scotland’s Bundesliga appearance record holder, MacLeod played 103 times for Dortmund, marshaling the midfield superbly and earning himself more international recognition than he got at home. A German Cup and Super Cup win capped off a very good spell for MacLeod before he returned to Scotland in 1991 with Hibernian.
More famous as the other shouty Scotsman on Sky Sports News, McInally was actually a sought after striker in the summer of 1989. It would be Bayern Munich that would win the race for him and paid a record £1.2 million to Aston Villa for the striker.
Part of a new look attack, McInally was a success in his first season with his battering ram approach bagging him ten goals as Bayern won the league. Sadly, the higher ups at Bayern decided they didn’t want McInally after a season and despite attempts to sell him, McInally stayed and bagged European goals before his release in 1992.
Affectionately known as “Big Mac” by Bayern fans, McInally is still the Bundesliga’s record Scottish scorer with his ten goals.
Probably the most famous Scotsman in the Bundesliga, Lambert was a resounding success at Dortmund despite only spending 14 months in Germany. Signed after impressing for Motherwell against Dortmund, Lambert was redeployed as a defensive midfielder with great success.
Where Lambert really earned his love from the Dortmund fans was not in the Bundesliga but the Champions League as his performances in the semis against Manchester United and the final against Juventus have been widely praised. He marked the legendary Zinedine Zidane out of the final and provided the cross for the opener as Dortmund won the tournament against all odds.
Ah Scott Booth. The elephant in the room. Signed right after the Champions League win and the success of Paul Lambert, Booth was the epitome of a mediocre Aberdeen team at the time. Even Booth himself has admitted it wasn’t right.
He played nine Bundesliga games for Dortmund and scored once and even scored in the Champions League and was there when Dortmund were crowned world champions but he was never, ever good enough. Booth has admitted he had to be at his best everyday just to avoid looking stupid in training.
He was loaned out by Dortmund after just a few months and was gone in 1999 with plenty forgetting that Booth even played in Germany.
The final Scotsman to ever grace the Bundesliga, O’Neil is a cult hero at Wolfsburg. A regular in his two and a half seasons in Germany, O’Neil was a very capable footballer that added some steel to the midfield.
Unloved in Scotland and at Aberdeen, O’Neil carved out a very good career in Germany and was loved by the fans while he was there.
That’s all of the Scotsmen that have played in the Bundesliga all with varying levels of success. Will we see number eight any time soon?