International football, more than just about anything else in sport, is a matter of circumstance.
The game’s hall of fame is strung with players who, through sheer accident of birth, were never afforded the opportunity to perform on the major tournament stage.
Singular exceptional talents, left arithmetically powerless to sufficiently boost their national teams’ aggregate ability by the want of functional compatriots.
Erling Haaland may feel that way today, though he and his countrymen are surely too good for Norway’s drought to last much longer.
So it is a true privilege that, for the second time in three years, Scotland’s footballers will be present at the European Championship finals while others are not.
If there was an absence of the nationwide boogie which greeted the side’s qualification last time around it is only because the final touch was applied elsewhere with Scotland not in action, and not because there has been any dilution in the appreciation of the achievement.
It is one which – with a due hat-tip to a squad of players who have answered the call time and again – owes itself largely to the excellence of Steve Clarke, and by extension the discernment of those who appointed him.
It would have been easy for the SFA to freeze out the best candidate for the role and install one who has friends in the right blazers.
It is an approach they have often taken in times past, and it rarely ends well. The proving ground is an unforgiving place, and hires who do not possess the minerals for the task will quickly be found out.
Clarke may speak quietly but, in terms of his professional ability, he carries a big stick.
Though a job may be tough, choose the right person for it and all things are possible.