‘The lads can become legends’ – Steve Clarke urges Scots to shine at Euro 2020
Steve Clarke has called on his Scotland players to aim to “become legends” at this summer’s European Championships.
The national team boss announced his 26-man squad for the rescheduled tournament, which gets under way next month, with most interest around the uncapped trio of Billy Gilmour, Nathan Patterson and David Turnbull.
The Scots will soon start preparing for their first major tournament in 23 years and will host the Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden Park, with a keenly anticipated fixture against England at Wembley in between.
Scotland have never qualified for the knockout stages of any major competition before and Clarke, speaking at a Hampden Park press conference, looked to break through that glass ceiling.
He said: “I think it has been a feel-good story and it is great to be involved in the tournament.
“We want to be competitive. When the boys won the match in Serbia on penalties (to qualify for Euro 2020) everyone got a great lift, it was a fantastic feeling.
“All the boys became heroes overnight.
If we can get out the group stages in the summer they can become legends, so why not aim for that?
“If we can get out the group stages in the summer they can become legends, so why not aim for that?
“It is always important to try to be as competitive as you can be.
“I have always said the group has grown in stature. The more caps, international experience and confidence they get from the games against the bigger and better teams – hopefully we can go there in the summer and cause a few problems to the other teams in the group.
“We are going there with the intention to get out the group of course, there is no point in going if we are just going to make up the numbers.
“We are going there to be as competitive as we can be and if that gets us enough points to get out the group and into the knockout stage, like I said before, the lads can become legends.”
Chelsea midfielder Gilmour and Rangers right-back Patterson, both 19, were joined by Celtic’s 21-year-old PFA Scotland young player of the year Turnbull.
Clarke explained his thinking about drafting in “three very talented players” and insists they are on a “level footing” with the more experienced players in his group.
He said: “I think they all add something to the squad.
“Everyone goes to the training camp in Spain on a level footing. They’ve all got their chance to play their way into the team for the Euros.
“Nathan Patterson and David Turnbull have caught the eye in Scotland with their performances for Rangers and Celtic.
“Billy Gilmour is a player I’ve known for a long time and I know he’s very well regarded at Chelsea.
“It was nice to see him getting a few games recently and he looks like he’s over his injury.
“I’ve tried to stick as much as possible with the nucleus of the squad, which is important.
“The camaraderie of the squad was a big part of the qualification and I’ve added three young ones to liven it up a bit.”
Kenny McLean, Ryan Jack, Oli McBurnie, Oli Burke all miss out through injury and Clarke had to make “difficult calls” to defenders Andrew Considine and Liam Palmer to deliver the bad news of their omission.
But the former West Brom, Reading and Kilmarnock boss insists there may yet be opportunities for players to be called up.
He said: “Both were obviously very disappointed but we have the opportunity to make changes to the squad right up until the day before first game of the tournament.
“I haven’t done an official stand-by list. I have spoken to quite a few players, but I am using this as a platform as well, just to say, ‘Keep yourself fit because, with the Covid situation and the injury situation, you never know’.”