SCOTLAND captain Andrew Robertson is getting used to mentally preparing on the eve of a historic game. Since joining Liverpool from Hull City four years ago, the left-back has made two Champions League finals (with varying results). He played a key role as Jurgen Klopp’s men finally won that coveted Premier League title in 2020 and today, at the age of 27, he will lead his nation to a major tournament final – becoming the first man in over two decades to do so.
Having already experienced the intense preparation for such an important occasion firsthand, Robertson is in a good position to send words of encouragement to those at the camp for whom the current situation is new. As fan excitement peaks and the whole country hums with anticipation, Dundee United full-back insists it is essential that he and his team-mates remain calm and collected.
“It’s very similar to the Champions League final in the sense of the excitement about what’s to come and what lies ahead,” said Robertson. ” That’s what is best. That’s why we play football.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it before and some of the other guys too, in terms of cup finals and huge games. It just adds a little more to being with your country.
“It’s important to stay calm, composed and ready – then to go all out in the game.
“I think you learn to appreciate it more, 100%. It comes with age and experience. You have to take advantage of the good times, because it’s not always like that.
“In my first Champions League final, I probably didn’t enjoy the preparation as much as I should have. Luckily I was back the next season and I made a promise to myself that whatever the outcome, I would enjoy the race as much as possible, being with my family and being excited and everything in between.
“I certainly did and the result is all the better. This time I was quite relaxed. I loved seeing my family, friends and the whole country getting excited.
“We landed in Scotland and already felt it around the hotel. It’s great to have the support of the country and so many people excited to watch Scotland in a major tournament. It’s up to us to make them proud.
Players will have the chance to do just that once they cross the white lines at Hampden to face the Czechs this afternoon. Having faced Jaroslav Silhavy’s side twice recently in the League of Nations – and having won twice, despite being mostly against a B-team following a Covid outbreak – Robertson insists the fact that he and his teammates will know what to expect at the national stadium.
With 16 of the tournament’s 24 teams in the group stage, the Scottish skipper knows that a win today would leave Clarke’s men with one foot in the round of 16 – adding that the idea of facing England on Friday barely got past his listening.
Robertson said: “The most important game is the one in front of you. This is the easy and best answer. We are fully focused on this game tomorrow – we haven’t even thought about the other two yet.
“So we don’t know if it’s a must win. Yes, we want to win it. We want to start the tournament well. But we know how difficult it is going to be.
“We played against the Czech Republic in the Nations League and it was an incredibly difficult game in Hampden. Fortunately, we got the victory, but we had to work hard for it. We will need the same today.
“They have a very good team with very good players. We must try to stop their threat. But we must also try to impose ourselves. We will do everything to win the game.
When Robertson leads the team at Mount Florida today, he will follow in the footsteps of Scottish game giants such as Billy Bremner, Graeme Souness and Roy Aitken by adorning the captain’s armband in a major tournament final.
Raised by stories of past glory, Robertson admits he’s inspired by the exploits of his predecessors – but he’s determined to write a chapter or two in Scottish football history himself over the next few years. weeks.
“These guys are legends of the Scottish game,” Robertson added. “The legends of football as a whole. It’s clear that it’s nice to follow them.
“I just feel lucky enough to wear the armband, but it’s not just about me. It’s about this whole team and I’m just delighted that we can become a group of players who have played for Scotland in a major tournament.
“I’m the one lucky enough to walk in front of them. This is what we dreamed of when we were little boys playing in the park. This dream is about to come true.
“It’s up to us to create our own memories. A lot has changed in the world and in life since 98. It’s a long time and football has changed a lot too. The guys are excited to be a part of history and make our own.
“We have always said that we are not there to do numbers. We’re not just happy to be in the tournament, we want to be successful.
“We have a difficult group and it will be difficult. But our goal must be to be part of the group, which nobody has done before. If we can do this, we are writing our own story.