Stuart Findlay has dedicated his debut Scotland goal to manager Steve Clarke for turning his career around.
Kilmarnock defender Findlay marked his first international cap with a goal after being drafted in by Clarke for Sunday’s 6-0 European qualifying victory over San Marino at Hampden Park.
Findlay was part of a Killie side which was transformed following Clarke’s arrival in October 2017, with the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant handed the national team job in the summer after guiding the Ayrshire side into Europe.
Findlay has been a regular in Clarke’s squad selections so far and the 24-year-old is grateful to his former club manager for his role in kick starting his career.
Findlay said: “I basically owe my career to Steve Clarke over the past couple of years – from being in and out of a struggling Kilmarnock side to being one of the main players in a team which came third in the league.
“There is only one guy I can thank for that. He put his trust in me, gave me the deal that I got at Kilamrnock and now he’s brought me into the Scotland squad.
“My relationship with him is key. Thankfully he put his trust in me. I owe him a lot and, hopefully, I have repaid him.”
Findlay was handed his first call-up by Clarke’s predecessor Alex McLeish for the March double header against Kazakhstan and San Marino, which proved his last matches in charge.
After impressing in his first international outing, Findlay hopes to show he belongs in the national side, adding: “I was thinking that seven months ago I had never been involved in the Scotland set-up in my life.
“We were playing a game away from home against St Mirren on a Monday night and James McFadden was doing the commentary and I managed to get a late call-up to the squad.
“I think about that and it shows how quickly football can turn. With that, I know how quickly it could turn back to not being involved.
“Growing up it was always my dream to make my debut for Scotland so to score a goal at Hampden Park is what everyone dreams about.
“Some people hope to score a special goal – an overhead kick of a free-kick or something – but if the ball had fallen to me a yard out and toe-poked it in I would have been just as happy.
“It was a really special moment for me and I now want to kick on. I want to make sure I am not a flash in the plan and make sure I do everything in my power to stay at the level I’m at.”
Scotland cannot automatically qualify for Euro 2020 through their qualification group, however Findlay hopes Sunday’s victory can kick start a run of momentum ahead of the play-offs in March.
Findlay added: “If we can build from here, hopefully, it can be a starting point for us.
“Cyprus and Kazakhstan will probably be more to the level of what the players and teams are going to be like in the play-off, so if we get six points from those games and take that into the play-offs, there is no reason why we can’t make the Euros.”