It is an astonishing record, but there is one problem: it isn't true. He was selected for the team but my new research shows that he did not play in the match.
Despite that, Lambie still holds the record for our youngest internationalist, as he did play in the corresponding match in 1887.
So, what happened? Ireland played Scotland in Belfast on 20 March 1886. The Scottish FA selected the team on 9 March, including three from Queen's Park: JJ Gow as captain, W Harrower and JA Lambie. The Athletic News described it as a team of young players, although there was no comment about precisely how young. Lambie was only 17, having been born on 18 December 1868, and was already a regular in the Queen's Park team - in fact he had just won the Scottish Cup. A precocious talent, indeed.
Surely some mistake? On Monday, many of the leading newspapers named Lambie in the Scotland team: the Glasgow Herald, the Scotsman, The Sportsman, the Sporting Life, Northern Whig and Belfast News Letter.
But look a bit further: the Irish Times says that Lambie was replaced by Kelly. Later in the week the sports papers give the same info: The Field agrees that Kelly played in place of Lambie, Sport (Dublin) says Kelly, the Scottish Umpire reports Kelly scored a goal. The Athletic News is not much help as it says Kerr (Renton).
I have also looked at subsequent SFA Annuals for their records of who played against Ireland, and they are consistent: Kelly played in 1886, Lambie played in 1887.
There are other sources: Richard Robinson's jubilee history of Queen's Park (1920) credits Lambie with just two caps, against Ireland in 1887 and England in 1888. And Willie Maley, writing in the Sunday Post in 1924, says that Kelly 'played against Ireland as far back as 1886, in which match he made the acquaintanceship of Michael Dunbar, who played inside left in his only international'.
So, it seems that Lambie did not make his Scotland debut aged 17, but he does still hold the record, as he was named captain of Scotland against Ireland on 19 February 1887, aged 18 years and 63 days. However, he has lost the title of youngest goalscorer, which appears to belong to Fred Anderson in 1874.
This is not the first time I have discovered a mistake in Scotland's international caps record. Hugh Wilson of Dumbarton played against Wales in 1885 but has been missing from the record books.
Lambie is also not unique in being selected aged 17 but unable to play. I wrote a few years back about Woody Gray who was 'compelled to decline the honour'.
Here is a revised list of Scotland's ten youngest international footballers:
John Lambie born 18 December 1868; Ireland 19 February 1887 - 18y 63d.
Fred Anderson born 17 November 1855; England 7 March 1874 – 18y 110d.
Bob Christie born 15 November 1865; England 15 March 1884 – 18y 121d.
Bill Sellar 21 October 1864; England 21 March 1885 – 18y 151d.
Sandy McLaren born 25 December 1910; Norway 26 May 1929 – 18y 152d.
Denis Law born 24 February 1940; Ireland 18 October 1958 – 18y 236d.
Willie Henderson born 24 January 1944; Wales 20 October 1962 – 18y 269d.
Willie Johnston born 19 December 1946; Denmark 13 October 1965 – 18y 298d.
Kieran Tierney born 5 June 1997; Wales 29 March 2016 – 18y 298d.
Davidson Berry, born 27 May 1875; Wales 24 March 1894 – 18y 301d.
A further seven players were also 18 on their debut: Danny Wilson, Paul McStay, John R Gow, Archie Ritchie, Garry O'Connor, James T Richmond and Oli Burke. It is possible that further names will emerge as research continues.