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Football: I've scored hat-trick in 5-1 victory over England.. and I can do the same again SAYS SCOTLAND'S MARK BURCHILL; The Battle of Britain: SCOTTISH VERDICT.

CELTIC teenager Mark Burchill knows he is a long way from achieving a coveted place in the Hampden Hall of Fame - 48 caps to be precise.

But the young striker is determined to clinch a place in the history books against the Auld Enemy next month by firing Scotland into Euro2000.

Burch only has two caps to his credit - won against Bosnia and Lithuania last week. And he is just 19 years of age.

But he insists he'll let nothing stand in his way during the sensational qualifiers at Hampden and Wembley - especially not England defender Tony Adams.

The confident kid has soared from boot-boy at last season's World Cup finals to become a major player in Craig Brown's plans, and he is desperate to repay the national team coach.

He said: "When you think about being up against players like Tony Adams - one of the best defenders in Europe - then it's a fantastic prospect.

"Guys like him and Sol Campbell have been up against the best so it would be good to try myself out against them.

"I have no fears about that kind of challenge. They may be the best in the game but we have a lot of attacking options in the side and I'd love to square up to them.

"Let's face it, the whole England team is class with the likes of Owen, Shearer and Beckham but some people forget the quality we have."

Owen is the man Burch is constantly compared to at Parkhead. They are both fast and small but the English ace has much more experience than Burchill, who is still trying to find continuity in Paradise.

The Celt said: "I know there's probably going to be quite a lot made about the fact I am lining up against Michael Owen. People have compared the pair of us in the past so there would be hype on that account.

"He is brilliant and it is flattering to even be named alongside him.

"If we're both playing I'll try and outfox him but, at the end of the day, I am only trying to do what he is doing in the Premiership north of the border with Celtic."

National team coach Craig Brown should probably have a word with his youth coach Ross Mathie ahead of his selection for the match against the Auld Enemy, because the last time Burch lined up against England the Scots won 5-1 - and he scored a hat-trick.

He added: "That was a memorable game for the boys as they had the likes of Alan Smith, now at Leeds, playing for them and they had a good side.

"A repeat of that one would certainly be sweet but, seriously, we know what to expect as they are a real force.

"It's just the waiting now. But speak to any of the boys and they'll be bursting to get out there and play the game."

Burchill was just a Parkhead ground staff boy as a Paul Gascoigne-inspired England beat the Scots at Wembley in Euro'96.

That was a dark afternoon for Scotland and former skipper Gary McAllister, who missed a penalty when the score was 1-0. The aftermath of that defeat still hurts, and Burchill is desperate to make amends.

"I watched the Euro'96 game from Wembley at my parent's house as I was still staying there.

"Obviously, I went through most of the emotions that everyone in Scotland was going through at the time - so this is a great opportunity for revenge.

"It was a hard way to go out, with Gary McAllister missing the penalty and then Paul Gascoigne racing up the park to put one past Andy Goram.

"I missed a penalty against Lithuania last week but I would certainly love to make amends if I was given the chance.

"Last week I said I wanted a goal at Hampden, well, now I have the chance to get one there and at Wembley which is an amazing thought.

"I play in front of huge crowds - the biggest in Britain - when I play for Celtic, so that will not make one little bit of difference to me.

"If the boss was to pick me I would certainly not be the kind of person to let the occasion faze me.

"I will score for Scotland soon but I won't say where or when. Predictions have a funny way of coming back and making a fool of you. But that first goal would mean a lot to me.

"I said last week when I was awarded my place in the squad that it had been a great jump from kitboy to player.

"But even in the last week or so it all seems to have taken a huge leap.

"The match against Bosnia gave me the taste for it and then Lithuania - my first start - was fantastic as it showed me how quick things are.

"But now we are at another level. This time it is against England at Hampden and then a trip to Wembley.

"It's hard to believe it is all happening so fast but my feet are firmly on the ground. Getting to Euro2000 is the ultimate aim here and we will all be determined."

Burchill's Celtic skipper Tom Boyd also has his sights firmly set on qualification.

And he pinched a line from passionate England boss Kevin Keegan to describe his feelings on the crunch clashes.

Mimicking the manager's famous outburst two seasons ago when Manchester United and Newcastle were vying for the title, he said: "In the words of Kevin Keegan, I would really, really love it if we beat them."

The Celtic captain realises his back injury is almost certain to keep him out of the matches at Hampden and Wembley.

But he will be joining the Tartan Army on the terraces to roar Craig Brown's men on.

And - just as he talked up our chances at Euro'96 - he reckons we have nothing to fear from Shearer and company.

The future is already decided anyway, according to the Celt.

He said: "I think as soon as everyone started discussing the possibility, fate took over.

"I heard about it when one of the lads came out to training and said 'It's Scotland versus England'. That provoked a bit of uproar."

Boyd played in the Wembley nightmare of 1996 and recalls that Scotland would have won the encounter... with a bit of luck.

He said: "The '96 game was very unfortunate with Gary McAllister missing the penalty and letting them off the hook.

"I think we could well have gone on to win it - but Gazza went down the other end and finished the match off.

"There's been a lot of changes since then but we've got a good club atmosphere in the squad. We'll go in as underdogs but there's no reason why we can't win the tie."

Boyd's unbridled enthusiasm is shared by Hearts defender Paul Ritchie, who proclaimed yesterday: "It's the draw the whole of Britain has been waiting for."

He added: "You could not have asked for a harder - or a better - draw.

"Maybe, it's not ideal but facing the so-called Auld Enemy over two legs is something the boys will relish.

"It's the biggest game a lot of the boys will have played in.

"I've enjoyed the honour of playing England on three occasions, twice at schoolboys and once at under-16 level, and we won one, lost one and drew one.

"It's every Scottish players' dream to pull on that jersey and to have the opportunity to be involved against England at full international level, is an amazing feeling."

The 24-year-old Tynecastle star added: "I was sitting with the rest of the Hearts lads in the changing room at Tynecastle when the news came through on the radio.

"Scotland came out first, and, when England was the next name to come out, well, it was unbelievable.

"Being part of the Hearts team who beat Rangers in the final of the Scottish Cup was the biggest moment in my footballing career.

"But, to be truthful, to get the chance to play England for a place in the finals of Euro2000 is even bigger.

"These are two games which will be talked about by just about everyone in the weeks leading up to the first leg at Hampden Park.

"It could not be better, when the draw came out, we just thought 'Gee Whiz'.

"You could not ask for a more important game in the final countdown to the old Millennium.

"I know it really could not me more difficult. England have so many great players, Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Chris Sutton, Andy Cole, the list just goes on and on.

"Perhaps, Scotland do not have the same amount of superstars but what we do have is a wonderful support, and the passion and commitment of the players is exceptional.

"We are definitely in with a chance."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:MacDONALD, Grant
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 14, 1999
Words:1485
Previous Article:RUGBY UNION: THE BRUISE BROTHERS; RUGBY WORLD CUP.
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