THE grainy footage, soundless and not even filling a YouTube screen, shows Craig Gordon pushing himself off the ground to divert Ludovic Sylvestre’s point blank shot over the bar with his left arm.
Beardless and still in short sleeves, the Hearts man, in his first spell with the club, stunned Sparta Prague with his reflexes back in 2006 and to this day it’s a stop which makes its way onto every compilation of the Scotland international’s finest saves. It’s quite the back catalogue but, 15 years on, it’s growing all the time.
On Saturday, the 38-year-old, now back at Tynecastle, produced one of those days to fend off the advances of Dundee United and secure the Jam Tarts all three points.
With his side one to the good but running out of steam, Gordon leapt to his right and then his left to deny Ryan Edwards, Ian Harkes – twice – and Charlie Mulgrew. “World class,” is how his manager Robbie Neilson described the stops and that felt like an understatement.
For John Souttar, the Hearts defender who also impressed in the 2-0 win, Gordon’s reflexes have never come into question but he believes the goalkeeper is now a more complete player than ever before in his career.
“People don’t actually appreciate how good he is,” said the 24-year-old. “You think he’s good until you are with him every day. He’s the best goalkeeper in Scotland for me and I am sure he will be number one with the Scotland squad.
“He’s a top, top player and he shows it week in, week out for us. He brings a calmness we maybe didn’t have last year. I run out of words to say.
“Everyone knows how good he is but when you train with him every day you realise he’s a top player.
“You know there’s a world class goalkeeper behind you who will keep you safe. If there’s someone behind you who is that good, you are assured and not worrying about a shot or anything like that.
“He is an unbelievable goalkeeper and we are lucky to have him.”
Gordon will mind the nets for Scotland this week when they return to World Cup qualifying action against Denmark and Moldova. And having been picked for the Euro 2020 squad but failed to make a single appearance, he will be out to make up for lost time and add to his 57 caps for his country.
A week of rest lies in wait for Souttar but, given his early season form, there’s a growing feeling that a return to the squad isn’t too far away for the former Dundee United man. He last played for his country in 2018 but looks a player transformed.
“Look, everyone wants to play for their country,” said Souttar. “For me, it’s early in the season But I’ve played 12 to 15 games in a row now.
“I’ve just got to take this week off and that’s probably good for me at this stage in the season as I’ve played a lot of games.
“I’ll enjoy a wee rest week and watch the boys on TV. The Scotland squad is strong – you saw that in the Euros that there are a lot of good players in there.
“I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I’ll be involved at some point.
“I think we’ve got a couple of days although I think the gaffer has got us in quite a bit which is understandable as you don’t want the momentum to drop.”
Meanwhile, Dundee United midfielder Calum Butcher has told of his joy after agreeing an extension to his contract at Tannadice.
The 30-year-old has become a mainstay for the Tangerines and hopes, by the end of the new deal, he will have managed to get his hands on silverware for the first time.
“I am delighted to agree a new contract,” the former Millwall man said. “I am very settled here.
“I started this journey with the club and I want to finish it – hopefully we can do that during the time I’ve been given.
“What does finishing it look like? Well, we were in the Championship when I came back so we got out of that and now it’s about getting into the top six and getting to finals.
“That’s what this club is about.”