WHEN Che Adams’ rampaging counter-attack bought a decisive winning goal for Scotland in their World Cup qualifying campaign, a feeling of hope surged around Hampden Park and sent a bolt of new found confidence through Scottish life.

It was a phenomenal sporting moment, no more no less, and much as I relished the goal and the outpouring of national pride it unlocked, I remain highly ­sceptical about an age old Scottish parlour game which seeks to connect the progress of the ­national team to the wider politics and ­aspirations of Scotland.

The comparison game began in earnest in the 1966, when Harold Wilson’s ­Labour laid claim to helping England win the World Cup. It took on a specifically ­Scottish ­dimension, in the aftermath of ­failure at the World Cup in Argentina in 1978, when it was argued that the hangover of our ­ignominious retreat from the world cup finals under Ally McLeod led to ­defeat in the 1979 referendum, when the idea of a Scottish Assembly was lost.

Most now see it as bogus comparison, the Yes vote in 1979 actually won with a 51.6% majority but failed to meet the 60% hurdle required to enact legislation.

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Almost every other attempt to parallel the performance of the men’s national football team with wider self-confidence or self-governance in Scotland has been either desperate editorialising or sheer fallacy.

But we are allowed to indulge ourselves once in a while. Scotland’s victory over Denmark was not simply remarkable it signalled the arrival of a squad of players capable of taking Scotland to major tournaments. A new found confidence is in the air.

In one exhilarating move on the 32-­minute mark, Scotland were ­defending their goal when a miraculous phase of ­inter-passing took the from a crowded box to a shot on Denmark’s goal. It is no ­exaggeration to say, had it gone in, it would have been the finest goal in the ­history of Scottish football. It was the quality we once associated with ­Barcelona at their height and a reminder that the originators of world football, the revered “Scotch ­Professors” invented the passing game.

Nor were we playing a bunch of mugs. Denmark were on course for 10 straight wins and an unbeaten run in qualification. They had not conceded two goals to anyone with the exception of the world’s top ranking side Belgium, since 2015.

I know I sound like Nicola Sturgeon huddled up at home in an Ayr United dressing gown, reading a Skandi Noir novel, but we have much to learn from Denmark.

Danish first came into my life as a young boy and a freezing cold night game in Perth when St Johnstone played host to Greenock Morton. It was a floodlit game and Morton’s innovative chairman Hal Stewart had kitted his Morton side in day-glo strips, to make players stand out in the gloom, the first time they had made an appearance in Scottish football.

One of Stewart’s other innovations was signing players from part-time ­Danish football. Among the first arrivals for Odense, were goalkeeper Erik Sorensen and full-back Kai Johansen soon followed by Carl Bertelsen and Fleming Neilsen. Although for most Morton fans it is now ancient history, Ton supporters still pour into the Norseman Bar next to Cappielow for a pre-match libation.

What is worth dwelling on is not a ­constitutional bellwether but the ­monumental progress that Danish ­football has made since then. At the time of Morton’s first wave of imports, ­Denmark played part time club football and were a largely irrelevant international force whilst Scottish teams were succeeding in Europe and in 1964, a Scot, Denis Law won the Balon D’Or, as the greatest player in Europe. Last week ­Aberdeen ­unveiled a statue to the unique ­achievements of their native son.

Irrespective of the result last week, Scotland are still sitting 45th in the world, whilst the Danes have charged passed us and are currently the 10th ranked team in the world. Admittedly, history has ­complicated the world ­rankings. The break-up of the old USSR and the ­independent nations that formed after the war in Yugoslavia has brought new ­nations into the frame, but the ­underlying facts cannot conceal the gulf that has ­separated Denmark and Scotland over the last 20 years or more.

Talking of the war in Yugoslavia. On May 31, 1992, amid war in the ­Balkans and United Nations sanctions, ­Yugoslavia were kicked out of Euro 92, sent home from Sweden 10 days before the ­tournament began. Denmark entered the tournament as a the hurried replacement. Four weeks later the Danes played Germany in the Euro 92 final in Gothenburg having beaten France and the Netherlands on the way. A team featuring Michael Luadrup and Peter Schmiechel won the tournaments whilst Scotland ­returned home without progressing.

DESPITE our role-call of football riches Law, Baxter, Bremner, Dalglish, Souness et al – Scotland has never fashioned either a team or even a generation that has come remotely close to matching Denmark, until now.

I am a football optimist and swelled with excitement as Billy Gilmour, ­Callum McGregor and John McGinn dominated the Danes but the inquisitive sided of my personality reflected back on the 40 years of missed opportunities as our northern neighbours strode ahead.

I do not want to piss on our chips but we have to balance celebration with ­sober reflection. Our story has been one of squandered wealth. We have been poorly led and still have an antiquated system of football leadership that at its worse is no better than a bowling club committee.

What has been missing in the ­aftermath of Scotland exhilarating ­victory over ­Denmark is any sense of ­angry ­self-reflection. Why has this taken so long? Why was decline allowed to ­happen? What were the basic mistakes that were made that allowed a nation with around the same population to go from part-time football to a top 10 world ­nation bypassing us like a clapped out Ford ­Cortina on the way.

There is no simple answer but there are a million much smaller ones often ­concealed within a system that seems fearful of change or even self-criticism.

It would be easy to attack the SFA and jump to a simplistic blame game. At a time when many Scots fans are enraged that Scotland’s games are behind a paywall and England’s game made freely available on STV it is easy to pick faults with the SFA’s dealings in the media markets. Set against that is much improved and often inspired digital and social media services.

The SFA is an arcane and overstretched organisation that has done some great work for the game, the development of women’s football, community work and providing national support for players with cerebral palsy stand out.

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An independent review of the last 30 years would expose some serial failings within our national game, but the glossy feel good of our victory against Denmark will almost certainly be used to paper over cracks.

Self-confident nations persistently ­review where they are and put their ­institutions forward for analysis and ­successful commercial businesses review themselves during the good times and never rest on their laurels.

Unfortunately, the SFA is not ­subject to the kind of external scrutiny that ­regulators like Ofcom and Ofgem bring to television or the power industries, but that does not mean they cannot gain from greater scrutiny.

Beating Denmark at a crowded Hampden ranks as one of the greatest nights in the history of Scottish international football, and in the warm aftermath it may seem strange to demand that our game is subject to rigorous review.

It was a glorious night of football but why did it take so long?