Scotland’s key players “aren’t taking international duty seriously” enough to end the 22-year wait to reach a major tournament, says Kevin Gallacher.
Despite having a squad with Champions League and Premier League experience, Steve Clarke’s side cannot progress from their Euro 2020 qualifying group.
A play-off, earned via the Nations League, awaits but Gallacher, 52, says players must “step up” their efforts.
“On paper we’ve got good players,” the former Scotland forward said.
“We’ve got players playing in the Premier League. We’ve got players playing in the Champions League. But for some reason they’re just not performing at the national level.
“I think players aren’t taking it seriously even though playing at the national level is another step up from playing in the Champions League.
“They seem to think, ‘Aw, we’ve played in the Champions League so we’ve done it all,’ but they’re not quite performing.
“They’ve got to realise that international level of football is the best players in your country and they need to take that step up a little bit.”
Gallacher, who won 53 caps and played at three major tournaments, was instrumental in Scotland making it to their last finals at the World Cup in 1998.
Of his nine goals for his country, he netted six in 10 crucial games to confirm Scotland’s spot in France.
In contrast, Clarke has had to use 10 different forwards in his first six competitive games in charge because of injuries and senior players retiring.
“I’m told now that clubs don’t want their players injured. So maybe players are looking after themselves a little bit more,” Gallacher told BBC Scotland.
“Which means in games for Scotland they’re maybe not giving their 100%. In our time you just gave 100% whether you were going to get injured or not. It didn’t matter.
“I got injured a few times playing for Scotland and I went back to my club and they weren’t happy but for me it wouldn’t stop me playing for Scotland. No matter what, I was going to do it.”
‘We didn’t let the Dad’s Army stick bother us’
While the current class of Scotland player comes under scrutiny after two decades in the wilderness, Gallacher admits it is not a new concept.
“For my generation, when we were going through it, we were getting stick about being the oldest team going to the 1998 World Cup,” said the former Newcastle United forward.
“When we qualified for the 1998 World Cup we never really got too much praise because we were ‘Dad’s Army’.
“So we were all walking about patting ourselves on the back and then getting told by the media that we weren’t Kenny Dalglish, Billy Bremner or any part of this history of Scotland.
“So I look at that squad that we went with and think, ‘What a squad we were’ because we were together, we were in it for each other, we fought for each other and if someone got hurt we stood up for that person.”
‘I worked for the Tartan Army. Now I’m part of it’
Despite his view of the current crop of players, Gallacher is hopeful of seeing his nation at another major tournament.
After playing and working as a pundit at numerous tournaments, the 52-year-old would now like to show his support in the stands to complete the hat-trick.
“I’ve been to World Cups and Euros, I’ve worked at World Cups and Euros, and now I’d like to go as a Scotland fan to World Cups and Euros,” he said.
“When I have a dream and I try to fulfil it that’s what I want. Hopefully we’ll get it in my time.
“I think that would top it for me. And then I think I’ve done everything at that point. I’ve worked for the Tartan Army and now I’m going to become part of it.”