Derby County defender Craig Forsyth was surprised when Scotland manager Gordon Strachan told him he would be starting against Ireland in Saturday’s pivotal Euro 2016 qualifier.
The 26-year-old left back, chosen ahead of Andy Robertson and Steven Whittaker, made his full competitive debut in the 1-1 draw in front of 49,000 supporters at the Aviva Stadium.
The former Dundee and Watford player looked nervous during a testing 90 minutes but will take a huge amount of confidence from featuring in such an important international.
He said: “It was only in the morning that I found out I was starting.
“There was a team meeting and the manager named the side. He went through the set-pieces and I have to confess it was a bit of a surprise for me.
“But I was delighted to finally make my competitive debut.
“Before the game I had a little bit of nerves, but I think that’s only natural.
“It was the magnitude of the game, but I just tried and play my natural way.”
Forsyth accepted his performance was not his best, but believes he has more to offer in a Scotland jersey in the future.
He said: “I thought I did all right. I could’ve done a bit better on the ball, I had a few sloppy passes and there was one where I gave them a breakaway. But overall I was quite happy with how I played.
“We’re in the middle of the off-season and I still think I can get sharper and fitter. But I think the Qatar game hopefully showed what I can do and I felt I did all right defensively against Ireland.”
Forsyth has experience of playing in the richest game in football having featured for Derby in the 2014 Championship play-off final against Queens Park Rangers.
But the defender said Saturday’s match was a more nerve-wracking experience.
He said: “This was probably above it – if only because of the occasion and what it meant to everybody. It probably was my biggest game so far.
“It was obviously a massive international, it’s different from club level, and there was so much at stake. The atmosphere and the occasion, it was huge, while their supporters and ours were lively.
“It was a big occasion but I felt I handled it well. It gave me a massive confidence boost that the manager was prepared to put me in for my first start and knowing what it meant to everybody.”