McFadden magic could be worth Euro millions

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The Independent Football

It was a moment that united a nation, even if not every Scot managed to see James McFadden's piece of genius in Paris. While everyone back home gathered round TV sets, a few exiles, such as Paolo Nutini, had to suffer in silence: the singer tried to watch the game in a New York bar but walked out when the owner demanded $20 from the Paisley 20-year-old and his friends.

Scot first, pop star second. The youngster proved as stubborn as Alex McLeish's defence as he went to an internet cafe to keep up with the game online.

The real value of McFadden's spectacular match-winner will run to millions of pounds if Scotland reach next summer's Euro 2008 finals. Thrown into the "group of death" as fourth seeds, they inflicted a second defeat upon France in 11 months. The only other time Raymond Domenech's side have lost in 48 games is when Italy triumphed on penalties in the 2006 World Cup final. With three games to go, it is Scotland who lead Group B, the world champions are second and France are squeezed into third and in danger of missing out on qualification.

Gordon Strachan was anotherwho missed the game. The Celtic manager was on a flight to England, taking advantage of a rare day off because of the internationals. "I was going down to see my grandchildren, and when I got off the plane I was told itwas 1-0 with seven minutes left," explained Strachan.

Strachan is convinced that the imprint made by Celtic and Rangers in recent seasons in the Champions' League has helped the national side.

"There used to be a lot of foreign players in Scottish teams when we played in the Champions' League but now there are a lot of homegrown players in both Old Firm squads," reflectedStrachan on Friday. "That means international football is not a big jump up for them.

"Even for Premiership players, the Champions' League is a step up of maybe five per cent. In the Scottish Premier League, it's 30 per cent. Apart from the World Cup, the Champions' League is the most competitive football you can have."

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