Ryan Christie’s tears on television summed up Scotland’s feelings on an unforgettable night. To his father Charlie, they brought a lump to the throat.
Scotland’s goalscorer against Serbia, in a game which ended their 22-year wait for a major tournament, delivered a post-match interview to Sky Sports’ Luke Shanley that went viral within minutes.
In a corner of Inverness, where Christie grew up and made his name as a young footballer with Caley Thistle, it gave his family an incredible sense of pride.
“I hope everyone back home is having a party tonight!” 🥳
Just look how much it means to Ryan Christie! 🥺pic.twitter.com/pr13ClPSwl
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) November 12, 2020
“It’s not often you get to drink champagne on a Thursday night in Inverness!” said Charlie Christie, who works as the head of youth at Inverness.
“The emotion of it was great. I had a lump in my throat myself watching it. Playing for Scotland means everything to Ryan. From playing for the 19s, to the 21s, every time he pulls on a Scotland shirt I know how much it means to him. That showed in the interview.
“It showed how desperate the squad were to achieve it. A lot of us had said they’d got a real chance but did we really believe? Serbia battered Norway out there but from the first minute to the 89th minute, I thought we were absolutely superb.
“Uefa do a random two players (for drug testing) after the game and it was John McGinn and Ryan that got pulled out. They missed the immediate celebrations but he sent me a couple of videos from the hotel when they got back.
“It was fantastic to see – it’s been a long time coming. He did say they’ve got a good camp and fair play to Steve Clarke. You can see it – there’s a real togetherness in the camp. Scotland have got that again and that counts for a lot.”
After missing the previous three games, which included the penalty win over Israel to get to Belgrade, Christie senior believes there was a release of emotion from that.
Following Stuart Armstrong’s positive coronavirus test prior to the Israel game, his two former Celtic colleagues Christie and Kieran Tierney were also required to self-isolate after being identified as close contacts.
“Ryan was hugely frustrated for missing the Scotland camp and then the Celtic games as well. It was a difficult period for him, as it is for society in general just now,” Christie added.
🏴 Congrats to @ScotlandNT on qualification to the Euros tonight! GET IN!
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) November 12, 2020
“He found the 14 days self-isolating really difficult. He worked on his fitness and I think that paid back last night.
“I think a bit of that came out in the interview too. There’s been a bit of pent-up emotion in him too. While he’s still doing well for Celtic, he’s probably not hit the heights he did last year but there’s been signs lately that Ryan was getting back to his best.
“From his first touch of the ball to the time he got substituted, I thought he had his best game in a Scotland shirt as well.”
Like many, the nature of the game took Christie by surprise, as to how well Steve Clarke’s side.
“I was certainly shocked at how well we did, how much of the ball we had,” he added. “We dictated the game for 75 minutes. They were going to have a wee charge at the end and then they score the goal.
“Extra-time was always going to be difficult but I think we coped reasonably well. But you couldn’t write the script. I feel delighted for them – I think a lot of players had their best game for Scotland.
“Declan Gallagher was excellent, Stephen O’Donnell had his best game in a Scotland shirt. (Ryan) Jack and (Callum) McGregor gave them good protection and (John) McGinn and Ryan and (Lyndon) Dykes up front caused them all sorts of problems.
“At the start of extra-time I think everyone would have taken penalties. To be fair they didn’t test us too much and fair play to Marshall. I think the writing was probably on the wall with the Israel game. Credit to them all.
“Touch wood, we’ll all be there with 50,000 of the Tartan Army at Hampden. I’ve already booked my accommodation in London – we booked something near Wembley.
“It’s great for the nation to get a lift. To get it through football, which we haven’t often said in my lifetime, is fantastic.”