UNTIL our women’s national football team burst on the international scene this summer, Scots in recent years had become accustomed to enjoying the fun from the sidelines.

Borrowing a word from one of their many tormenters, we were often fuelled by a sense of schadenfreude when enjoying the spectacular failures of England.

And three years ago on Thursday, Steve McClaren succeeded in putting a huge smile on the faces of viewers in Scotland – and indeed all over the world.

McClaren, summarising England’s Euro 2016 round of 16 clash with Iceland, was the epitome of optimism despite a lacklustre England side having conceded an equaliser to sprightly minnows Iceland.

Asked by the Sky Sports host how England had responded to the equaliser by Ragnar Sigurðsson, the former England manager was equivocal: “perfectly”.

Surely, defeat against a country with a population roughly half the size of Glasgow was unfeasible.

Wayne Rooney had stroked the favourites in front. Sigurðsson’s goal was merely a blip on what was inevitably England’s canter to yet more international glory – they won the World Cup in the 60s, in case you hadn’t heard.

“It’s been the perfect response,” McClaren observed. “No problem. Start again. Keep dominating. Keep getting pressure on the Iceland back four.

“The only thing that they have got is the big boy up front, Sigurdson … who really … Sigþórsson …”

It’s the hope that kills you, they say. What followed was the steady, unmistakable death of all sense of optimism from Steve McClaren’s soul as his face sunk into a stunned stupor.

“Talk us through that, Steve, I think we know what’s happened,” comes the immortal line from the Sky host.

Pausing for a moment, presumably to curse his self-fulfilling prophecy, McClaren can barely bring himself to describe what he’s just seen.

What he had seen was Kolbeinn Sigþórsson score what would turn out to be the winning goal for Iceland in a historic 2-1 victory.

Despite the mournful scenes in the Sky Sports studio, not everyone was so downbeat at the final whistle …