Noordwijk, a small coastal resort where the Dutch have been preparing both for the Scottish friendly and the finals beyond, welcomes visitors with an incongruous sci- fi sign proclaiming itself 'Space City'. Where better for Captain Dreadlock, as one paper has dubbed Gullit, to do his Captain Kirk bit by dematerialising into the black hole of the local amateur club's changing-rooms.
Early arrivals at the poplar- ringed park did see Gullit gently lapping the practice pitch with Dennis Bergkamp, who misses the game in the Galgewaard Stadium to allow a groin strain to continue healing.
When Bergkamp had done enough, Gullit also called it a day. He beat a hasty retreat, meeting requests for a quick word with a refusal as flat as the landscape. Later, when a lynx-eyed photographer spotted his distinctive silhouette, it provoked the kind of commotion that is Gazza's lot.
As the main attraction played hard to get, the sideshow of Dick Advocaat continued to put the ordinary mortals in the Dutch squad through their paces. Like Paul McGrath with the Irish, Gullit's unusual talent and history of injuries make him a law unto himself in terms of training. It is difficult, however, to resist the conclusion that he is back on his own terms.
The feeling is compounded by the fact that, with Bergkamp out, Gullit is also likely to be granted his wish of a central role tonight. It was his marginalisation on the right of midfield that caused his rift with Advocaat in the first place.
Gullit's decision not to overdo it was vindicated by the sight of a physio rushing an icepack to the goalkeeper, Ed De Goey, who appeared to have hurt an ankle. Danny Blind, the sweeper, also boarded the team bus gingerly with his right thigh strapped up.
As understudy to Ronald Koeman, who has been given time off to recover from Barcelona's run-around by Milan, the loss of Blind might be felt more keenly. De Goey's indisposition would let in Theo Snelders, who earns his living with Aberdeen.
In the two months since Scotland lost 1-0 to the Dutch in Glasgow, the Republic of Ireland have won by the same score in the Netherlands. A dearth of defenders, rather than any Irish-inspired tactics, may force Craig Brown into reverting to a 4-4-2 system.
The Scots need a morale- raising result almost as much as their hosts, bearing in mind the start of their European Championship qualifying campaign in Finland next September. 'The Finns wanted us at home in their first game,' Brown said. 'They were treating us a bit lightly, though they might not be so keen after seeing the way we won in Austria last month. Another good performance might make them twitch a bit.'
THE NETHERLANDS (probable): De Goey (Feyenoord); Blind (Ajax); Valckx (Sporting Lisbon), Rijkaard (Ajax), F De Boer (Ajax); Wouters (PSV Eindhoven, capt), Jonk (Internazionale), Witschge (Feyenoord); Overmars (Ajax), Gullit (Milan), Roy (Foggia).
SCOTLAND (probable): Leighton (Hiberbian); Clarke (Chelsea), Hendry (Blackburn), Irvine (Aberdeen), McKimmie (Aberdeen); I Ferguson (Rangers), McKinlay (Dundee Utd), McAllister (Leeds, capt), Collins (Celtic); McGinlay (Bolton), Jess (Aberdeen).Reuse content