Wolves throwback: When England let Steve Bull loose at Hampden
Scoring on your England debut against arch rivals Scotland, it does not get much better than that.
Well, today marks 31 years since Wolves legend Steve Bull donned the Three Lions shirt for the first time and capped it with an emphatic strike at Hampden Park.
Bully is still – technically being a Third Division player at the time, although Wolves had clinched promotion – the last player to be capped by England from outside of the top two tiers, too.
And he remembers that 2-0 win in the fifth and final Rous Cup all so fondly, as he said: “It was absolutely unbelievable.
“I was in the Third Division at the time, waiting to go up into the Second Division and I remember getting the call and thinking ‘what’s going on here?’
“I had a couple of training sessions, though, and everybody made me feel welcome.
“Luckily, I got my chance and I was able to get a goal.”
Giving an opportunity to a third-tier player at international level was pretty much unheard of, and of course has not been done since with England.
Having scored a whopping 50 goals as Wolves became Third Division champions, Bully is one of just five post-war players to receive the honour.
“I was very lucky to be picked by Bobby Robson. He had that belief I could score goals, especially against Scotland – it’s that fierce rivalry, similar to Wolves against Albion,” he said.
“John Fashanu picked up a knock early on and I remember the gaffer telling me to warm up and saying ‘just do what you do for your club’, so that’s what I did.”
Hammering the ball home in the 82nd minute after Chris Waddle had given England the lead with a diving header, this was a typical Bully goal.
Dave McPherson and Alex McLeish were imposing figures in the Scotland defence but that did not faze him.
Gary Stevens floated a ball over from right-back and the ball bounced off Bully’s shoulder before he rifled it into the bottom corner in the blink of an eye.
“A lot of my goals were like that, to be fair,” he said.
“McLeish and McPherson were at the back and they were big lads, but I remember just going up for the ball, it coming off my shoulder and thinking ‘just hit it’.
“Then, you’re running off to celebrate. I couldn’t believe it.
“I turned towards the Scotland fans, got on my knees and put my arms up, and then Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) is running towards you, Bryan Robson, Chris Waddle – all these top, top players. “It was unbelievable. Of course, I’ll never forget it.”
Of course, it was not one and done with England for Bull.
He went on to get 13 caps in total – going to Italia ‘90 – and scored four goals.
His brace against Czechoslovakia is special to him – chesting the ball down and smashing it into the roof of the net for the first, nodding home the second from a beautiful Gazza cross – and his header against Tunisia was sharp as well.
But, ultimately, Bully’s debut goal is the one that sticks out.
“I think you always say the debut goal as you never know when you’re going to get another. You always think of that first one, really,” he added.
“Scoring against Scotland at a packed Hampden Park, with 3,000 Wolves fans making the trip up as well, that’s the one.”