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Ryan Christie on verge of joining Scotland’s illustrious international roll of honour

Midfielder Christie could win his 50th cap when the Scots open Euro 2024 against hosts Germany in Munich on Friday.

Ryan Christie in action for Scotland
Inverness-born Ryan Christie in action for Scotland. Image: SNS

Ryan Christie stands on the verge of becoming the first fully-fledged Invernessian to reach 50 caps for Scotland.

Having featured in both of the Scots’ warm-up matches against Gibraltar and Finland ahead of the Euros, Bournenouth midfielder Christie’s next outing will see him join the Scottish FA’s International roll of honour.

Only 37 Scottish men’s players have reached the milestone – with Grant Hanley the latest to do so in Friday’s 2-2 draw against Finland in the national team’s final warm-up match before heading to Germany.

Prior to that, Inverness-born Stuart Armstrong earned his 50th cap against Northern Ireland in March – but spent the bulk of his formative years in Aberdeen.

Christie came through the youth ranks with hometown club Caley Thistle from the age of 10, helping them to lift the Scottish Cup in 2015.

Ryan Christie in action for Caley Thistle against Motherwell in 2014. Image: SNS

His father Charlie, who is Caley Thistle’s academy director, insists there would be no finer setting for Ryan to accomplish the feat than when Scotland open the tournament against host nation Germany in Munich on Friday.

‘It has never been done’

Christie said: “For a boy from Inverness it has never been done. Stuart Armstrong was born at Raigmore, but you can’t really say he is born and bred Invernessian as Ryan is.

“Somebody once said to me that it’s unlikely we will ever see that again.

Ryan Christie alongside father Charlie after Caley Thistle’s win over Celtic in the 2015 Scottish Cup semi-final. Image: SNS

“The other pleasing thing for me, in my current role, is that Ryan came through the Caley Thistle youth academy.

“Will Caley Thistle ever produce a player that will play for their country 50 times again?

“I hope so, but it’s a huge long shot.

“I know what it takes for a young person from Inverness to achieve that. All credit to him.”

Midfielder has not looked back since national team debut seven years ago

Christie was handed his national team debut by Malky Mackay in November 2017, in a friendly match against Netherlands at Pittodrie.

At the time Christie was an Aberdeen player, having spent 18 months on loan from Celtic.

He has since netted six goals for the Scots, including what was nearly the winner in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-off against Serbia.

Scotland ultimately triumphed on penalties after Christie’s strike was cancelled out, which prompted an emotional full-time interview from the midfielder after helping his country to end a 23-year tournament drought.

Christie has watched on with delight at how his son’s international career has progressed.

He added: “If someone had said to me that night Ryan would play for his country 50 times – I don’t say it to him too often – but I will be the proudest guy on the planet.

“I would have taken Ryan playing five or six times for Scotland when he was an eight-year-old.

“Since he has come into the Scotland squad, at times I don’t think people realise how well he has done.

Scotland's Ryan Christie in action
Scotland’s Ryan Christie converts a penalty to make it 2-1 against Republic of Ireland in 2022. Image: SNS

“There are so many games, such as Serbia, Spain and Norway, where Ryan has not just been part of the squad – but started the game and played a significant part.

“If you play 30 or 40 caps, but especially 50, it’s a real benchmark.

“When you look at the people who have played over 50 times for Scotland, you are talking about some of our best ever players we have produced over the last 100 years.”

Iraola’s ‘hybrid role’ has brought best out in Christie

Christie believes the 29-year-old is coming into this summer’s tournament in a better position than ever, having flourished under the management of Bournemouth boss Andoni Iraola.

The Spaniard’s arrival last summer led to a change in role for Christie, who had traditionally played in an advanced midfield role behind the striker.

Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola
Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola. Image: PA

Christie added: “The manager came in and spoke to Ryan early in his tenure. What Iraola liked was his tactical awareness of the game.

“The manager came out with that quite early which really pleased me, as it’s not said too often, but it’s something I have seen from a young age in Ryan.

“He has played in that deeper role, and Ryan talks numbers. He’s a lot more up-to-date than me, but he calls it a hybrid between a six and an eight.

“Ryan’s energy levels, and his awareness of the game means he can give you that.

“It’s why it’s called more of a hybrid role. He will play as that six but he’s not just sitting there, he will make that run to support the front men when it’s required.

Ryan Christie celebrates netting against Gibraltar. Image: SNS

“He’s got the legs to do that – and he has done it many times effectively for Steve Clarke.

“It seems to suit him. Loads of players are asked to play different roles and can struggle at it, but he has really taken to it.”

Cherries have provided Christie with platform

Christie was a pivotal part of a Cherries side which finished 12th in the Premier League, having made 43 appearances for the club this term.

His father insists Christie has proven his credentials against some of the best players in the world.

He added: “I’ll be honest – for three months there, it’s the best I have ever seen him play.

Ryan Christie in action for Bournemouth
Ryan Christie in action for Bournemouth. Image: Shutterstock.

“Around 2019 at Celtic under Brendan Rodgers, when he was scoring against Lazio and winning the treble, I thought he had really hit the heights.

“In the last year I look back to the game where Bournemouth won 3-0 against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“There were games at Newcastle home and away, and dare I say it the second half against Manchester City where they were terrific and deserved to get something out of the game.

“For a period in the game, Ryan was the best player on the park.

“When you look at the standard of player he is coming up against now, it’s some of the best on the planet.

“He has really taken to it and excelled.”