Ryan Christie made his Scotland debut against the Dutch and now he’s ready to face the elite of Europe in his country’s first major finals for 22 years.
The Inverness-born midfielder was handed his debut in a 1-0 friendly defeat against Holland in November 2017 by Malky Mackay, who was last week handed the boss job at Ross County.
The 26-year-old has now racked up 18 caps and scored against Serbia in the Euro 2020 play-off final in November, which helped secure Scotland’s place at Euro 2020.
Netherlands next up for Scotland
In Portugal tomorrow, Scotland take on the Netherlands in their penultimate warm-up test before facing Luxembourg on Sunday.
Pittodrie bow for Ryan Christie
His dad Charlie, who like Ryan played for Caley Thistle and Celtic, recalled one of many proud moments for the Christies, when he pulled on that navy shirt for his Scotland bow.
He said: “Malky Mackay gave Ryan his debut at Pittodrie against the Dutch. Ryan acquitted himself very well and I was chuffed. It was a big night for our family with Ryan making his debut for his country.
“He loves being with Scotland. When the group go away, there is a real togetherness. He is very friendly with a lot of that squad and that is noticeable.”
Clarke arms players with the best information
Scotland’s Euro 2020 opponents are the Czech Republic, England and Croatia, with the first game now under two weeks away. Two ties are at Hampden, with the only away day being that massive trip to Wembley on June 18.
Charlie explained that Scotland manager Steve Clarke leaves nothing to chance as the players take to the pitch armed with the best possible knowledge.
He said: “Ryan goes on the park, as all the players do, feeling that they know their jobs. Ryan tells me the manager speaks about periods of the game.
“How do you react when you go a goal up, or a goal behind? The players know about the little tweaks in the formation when these things occur in the game. To me, that is top class coaching.
“They are so well structured and that is half the battle in international football. You also need a slice of luck in all three games to get through the group, but we definitely have a chance and that’s the good thing.”
Opener with Czechs will be key
It all starts for Scotland against the Czechs in Glasgow on Monday, June 14.
The former ICT manager feels sure the opportunity to be the first Scotland team to get out of the groups at a major competition is possible, especially if they get a point or three from their opener.
He stressed: “As if often said in these tournaments, the first game is so important. If we lose the first game then it will be a real challenge to get out of the group.
“The gauntlet has been thrown down and, as Stephen O’Donnell said, we have a chance to make history.
“We have never qualified before for the latter stages, so this is a real chance. We have gone to tournaments before never believing and we have gone to others thinking we could win it and falling flat in our face.
“We do have a chance, but we have to be at our best, especially defensively. These teams are so technically gifted.”
Hampden central to chances of making history
He added: “This is up a notch from qualifying. We can take so much heart from going to Serbia and getting a result to qualify.
“We went toe-to-toe with them and Steve Clarke has got the side so structured and everyone is working so hard for one another.
“It will be difficult but the big factor for me is we have two games at Hampden. That gives us a chance. Had it been abroad and we were in unfamiliar stadia and circumstance then it would be more difficult, but we have a chance.”
Excitement rising ahead of finals’ kick-off
Charlie said Ryan’s ice-cool exterior is melting a little as excitement grows and the Euros move closer.
He added: “He is so chilled most of the time but you can hear how excited he is in his voice. It’s brilliant, now that they are getting the final work done, he is loving every minute of it.
“It is a dream. A couple of my pals lately said ‘this is so surreal, having a boy from Inverness lining up to play in our first major championships for 22 years’.
“It’s tremendous and Ryan deserves it. He has gone about his career in the right way from the word go.”