Stuart Armstrong has come a long way since playing for Dyce Boys Club as a youngster but the Celtic midfielder believes his time with the Aberdeen juvenile club played a key part in his development as he gears up for his first Scotland cap this weekend.
While most of his international teammates have been with professional clubs since they were young boys, Armstrong, who has been in sparkling form for Celtic in recent weeks, came into professional football much later than most.
But the former Dundee United player will reflect on his time spent playing in the Aberdeen juvenile leagues if he gets the chance to represent the national team against Slovenia in Sunday’s pivotal World Cup qualifier.
He said: “If it happens, it would be a proud moment for my family of course, and previous coaches stretching all the way back to Dyce Boys Club, where I started out when I was 13. It would be a good day, a proud day for a lot of people.
“I had a lot of good times there. I was there for five years and had a lot of success at boys club level.
“It’s something different that I have experienced from other boys who have been at professional clubs since they were young.
“I think Kieran Tierney joined Celtic when he was one – he’s been there forever.
“I came into professional football when I was 17. It was nice not to have that club football element when I was growing up.”
Armstrong, now 24, spent time with Inverness Caley Thistle before signing his first professional contract with Dundee United.
He said: “I always wanted to be involved in professional football. It was always a dream and happened later in life.
“I was involved with a few teams when I was about 13. That died down and I moved to Inverness when I was 16 or 17.
“My family moved halfway through the year to Dundee. They arranged for me to train with Dundee United during the week as it was too much to travel to Inverness.
“At the end of the season, Inverness got relegated and the under 18 set-up was all over the place so my dad spoke to the coach at Dundee United and asked if I could have a trial.
“Then United gave me a two year deal.”
Armstrong admits he is excited about the prospect of representing his country for the first time and believes he can cope with the pressure of delivering when it matters in a World Cup qualifier where Scotland require nothing less than all three points.
He said: “When I was younger, I had a few friends who went to the games and I went a few times with them. The one game that stands out is probably the France game when he won 1-0 and Gary Caldwell scored from a corner.
“My friend’s dad took us down. I can’t remember how old I was then but I was quite young. It was a nice one to go to. I had been before with my dad, who took me and my brother, but that one stands out.
“It has been good joining up with the boys. There are a few familiar faces from before which is always nice.
“I have got the other Celtic boys here and Andy Robertson, who I played with at Dundee United, and I have met a lot of the other players who are in the squad from time to time as well. It takes that all out of the way and I can just focus on football.
“There is always pressure in big games, whether that be club football or international football. It is something that I have become accustomed to over the years.
“Before, when I was slightly more inexperienced and hadn’t had that exposure to high pressure games, I would maybe overthink things and dwell on certain aspects of games.
“But now I appreciate that games can’t be perfect all of the time. You need to learn from the games and take what you can out of them.”