Rodri during the UEFA European Championship qualifier between Scotland and Spain at Hampden Park, Glasgow, March 2023.

Rodri & the post-match whinge saltier than some deep-fried Haggis

The final whistle at Hampden Park was more delicious for a Scotsman than a bite of deep-fried Haggis, but little did they know they’d taste an even juicer morsel before the night was out. 

After years of stubborn underachievement, Scotland’s 2-0 victory over Spain on a damp spring evening was the national team’s biggest achievement since James McFadden blootered the ball over Mickael Landreau at the Parc des Princes in 2007.

What’s more, it was a fully deserved triumph for Steve Clarke’s side. Committed from the first whistle, Scotland attacked their heralded visitors with the gusto of Frankie Boyle tearing into the Westminster government.

It’s true that Spain fielded an XI of competition winners in Glasgow, led by a man your average Andalucian wouldn’t recognise on the street, but even prime Xavi and Iniesta would’ve struggled to contain two-goal trequartista Scott McTominay last night.

All this was lost on Rodri. Following Spain’s humiliation, an intrepid reporter thrust a microphone under the nose of the Manchester City midfielder. What followed was a masterclass in losing without grace.

“Always when you lose, you are disappointed but I think we did many good things to win,” said Rodri, sipping from an intoxicating cocktail of delusion and one-eyedness.

“At the end, we weren’t efficient enough to score and we conceded easy goals. This is football and if you don’t score the easy goals, you are penalised heavily.”

Having centred on the idea that football matches are won by scoring goals and not conceding them, Rodri slipped into the kind of conspiracy theorising that’d make Matt Le Tissier blush.

“For the spirit of the sport, you have to move on. The referee has to take control of this but he says nothing,” he added.

“It’s a bit frustrating because we want to win but they waste time, waste time. It is what it is – they have their weapons, we have to use our weapons and I think we will learn for the next time.”

Yes, Scotland put on a courageous display of cheating and falling over, all while wearing Spain shirts. And from the nation that produced Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets too. Whatever next?

In the balance of fairness, shoving a microphone in front of the Spain captain following a result that showed their severe limitations was unlikely to produce platitudes for Scotland, shortbread and distilled whiskey.

And the mental demands of playing at the highest level – boundless self-belief, an ego bigger than your pay packet and singular focus on your task – don’t exactly lend themselves to public introspection.

But Rodri’s comments were instantly ridiculed for good reason; Spain had been outmuscled and outworked by a Scotland side that married determination with no little flair.

Everybody inside Hampden saw it. Everybody who navigated the wild terrains of digital television and dodgy streams saw it too. Even Spanish folk nursing a cerveza inside a taberna would’ve acknowledged Scotland deserved to win.

As Glasgow celebrated long into the night, the sole achievement of Rodri’s comments was to make the night even more memorable for those delirious flowers of Scotland.

By Michael Lee

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