Scotland manager Steve Clarke hailed leading the nation to the Euro 2020 finals as the proudest moment of his career.
David Marshall’s save in the penalty shoot-out gave Scotland a 5-4 win in Serbia after the game had finished 1-1 as Scotland ended their 22 year wait to appear in the finals of a major tournament.
The normally stoic Clarke, who has led the team on a nine-game unbeaten run, the country’s best since 1976, could not hide his pride for his players.
He said: “I don’t like to categorise these things but, yes, this is the proudest moment of my career. It’s absolutely fantastic, a great feeling. It’s great to be the head coach of such a good group of players.
“The commitment and the character they show, the quality they show. I’m just proud to be in charge of them.”
Several of the players, including goalscorer Ryan Christie, struggled to contain their emotion in the post-match interviews and Clarke too came close to letting the emotion out.
When asked if he had cried he said: “Yeah, there was a little glint appeared at one stage after the penalties but I managed to control myself.
“I think when you see the reaction of the players and the emotion of the players it tells you how much it means.
“Sometimes the players get knocked down a bit or their commitment for playing for their country is questioned.
“But you saw that tonight. You watched that game tonight. Their commitment is beyond question and if they did want to shed a tear then they were more than entitled to do that after such a long wait to take the country to a major finals.”
Scotland’s qualification for next summer means they will be in Group D with the Czech Republic, Croatia and England but Clarke is content to let the fans savour the matches now.
He said: “Obviously emotions are still very, very raw and emotions are on a high. Let’s just say the future will take care of itself.
“To come from such a disappointment of conceding in 90 minutes just makes it even more of a magnificent achievement.
“At that point it looked as though we were heading for the normal Scotland glorious failure. But the character of this group of players and the positivity about them shone through tonight.
“You could see the desperation to do well and the absolute determination to make sure we didn’t let anyone down this time. And they certainly didn’t.
“Tonight you’ve got to give us a little bit of grace and let us enjoy the moment. It’s been a long, long time since a Scottish team managed to qualify.
“We said we were determined to put a smile on the face of a nation and we’ve managed to do that. That should be your headline.
“This group of players deserve all the plaudits they can get and hopefully the nation of Scotland is smiling tonight because they should be.”