Craig Gordon might well be down, but don’t you ever count him out. The 41-year-old goalkeeper, who narrowly missed out on a place in Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for Euro 2024, has suffered more than his fair share of setbacks during his lengthy and distinguished career. And he tends to respond to them in emphatic fashion.

The Heart of Midlothian legend gained his 75th cap in Friday night’s 2-2 draw with Finland, becoming the oldest player to ever represent Scotland when he came off the bench to replace Angus Gunn in the second half. And although he didn’t make the cut for Germany, Gordon could tick off another goal achieved since returning from that horrific leg break in December 2022.

Posting on Instagram, the goalkeeper explained that his recovery was centred around four specific targets: to be out of pain; to be able to run and play with his children; to play for Hearts again; and to make the Scotland squad once again.

READ MORE: How much Hearts are estimated to have earned compared to league rivals

“Playing again for Scotland [on Friday] night meant I did what I set out to do,” Gordon wrote. “And while it wasn’t in the way I wanted, I could never turn down the opportunity to play at Hampden again. Something I have had the honour of doing for over 20 years.

“The circumstances were tough, it was an extremely emotional night for my family and I. But I’m grateful I got that opportunity. To become the oldest player to play for Scotland, it’s a special record.

“Given how long I’ve been doing this, I’ve experienced so much and I, probably more than others, know all too well, that things don't always go your way. Decisions go against you. [On Friday] night, of all nights, I wished they didn't but if a nervous 21-year-old could have seen that so many years on, through some big challenges, I'd be there at 41-years-old, I think I'd be very happy with that.

Craig Gordon on his Scotland debutCraig Gordon on his Scotland debut (Image: SNS)

“I should have been given a smaller shirt on my debut, but I knew that if I played for the badge on the front, people would remember the name on the back. I hope I’ve done that, and will continue to do so for as long as I feel could enough. 75 caps. Thank you.”

Thanks to data supplied by Hearts Hertitage and David Allan, museum and collections manager at Heart of Midlothian Museum, we can take a look at all the players to have featured alongside Gordon in his lengthy international career. 

As well as being the oldest player to ever play for Scotland, Gordon holds another individual honour with the national team. No other player has played alongside more players than the shot stopper. In his 20 years in the Scotland set-up, Gordon has played with 147 players in total. Only a handful of players have played alongside more than 100.

Most Scotland international team-mates - top 10

Craig Gordon 147,
Kenny Dalglish 128,
Darren Fletcher 126,
Kenny Miller 119,
Davie Weir 117,
Denis Law 115,
Christian Dailly 110,
Gary Caldwell 109,
Alan Morton 107,
Jim Leighton 106.

Excluding his injury spells, Gordon has been a mainstay of the international set-up for two decades, and he has seen a lot of players come and go in that time. Heck, Gordon has played as many Scotland games alongside Colin Cameron (two) as he has Lawrence Shankland. When Gordon started out he could count Malky Mackay and Jackie McNamara as team-mates; against Finland, he was playing on the same team as the likes of Tommy Conway, who was one year old when Gordon made his Scotland debut.

The graphic below shows each and every one of Gordon’s 147 international team-mates through the years. The bigger the bubble, the more caps they gained alongside the goalkeeper, and you can tap or hover your mouse over each one for additional information. In order for a player to be included, they had to play in the same match as Gordon, although not necessarily share the pitch with him (thus the goalkeepers). Some of the bubbles are very small so if you're reading this on your phone or via the app, I'd advise squeezing your fingers to zoom in on some of the players who only featured alongside Gordon on a handful of occasions.

It should come as little surprise that the players who featured most regularly alongside Gordon were mainstays of the national team themselves. Darren Fletcher comfortably played the most games with Gordon at 40, Kenny Miller is second on 30, while James McFadden, Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and Davie Weir are tied for third on 25 shared appearances.

John McGinn (24), Scott Brown (24), Gary Caldwell (23), Graham Alexander (23), Paul Hartley (23), Barry Ferguson (21), Callum McGregor (21), Gary Naysmith (20), Shaun Maloney (20) and Stuart Armstrong (20) are the only players to have breached the 20-game barrier.

Scrolling through the list of players that Gordon can list as colleagues, all sorts of names, both famous and infamous, jump out at you. It all started with McFadden and Miller, and his most recent outing was alongside McGregor and McGinn. But you can count on one thing: they won’t be the last players to play alongside the goalkeeper on the international stage. Craig Gordon will make sure of that.