‘It was strange atmosphere. The punters were surprised we’d qualified’

John McGinn and his Scotland team-mates are “living the dream” as they try to keep their minds off playing at a second consecutive European Championship next summer.

Steve Clarke’s side booked their spot in Germany last month before rounding off their campaign with back-to-back draws with Georgia and Norway.

Hampden was in party mode following the 3-3 with the Norwegians on Sunday, but McGinn added that the experience was “a bit strange for everyone” given the nature of how Scotland qualified.

“The campaign’s been amazing,” the Aston Villa captain told BBC Scotland.

“I’m just so proud of the way the boys have handled it. We have a team and a group of players that the country are so proud of and I think that showed at the end.

“I think the punters were a bit surprised we had actually qualified, it had a strange atmosphere, but it’s hopefully one we can get used to.”

‘We had to create an identity’

Scotland’s progression to the delayed Euro 2020 finals was achieved via back-to-back penalty shootout successes in play-off wins against Israel and Serbia.

This time around, automatic qualification was secured after five victories from their opening six group games booked a place in Germany with two matches to spare.

McGinn hopes that is an experience Scotland “can get used to” while making “the pathway easier” for future squads by eventually becoming pot one nation.

Meanwhile, head coach Clarke reflected on “an evolution” that has taken the national team from a sorry state to successive Euro finals under his guidance.

“I had to identify a core group,” he said on Viaplay. “We tweaked the system. I had a lot of time to think during Covid. I sat at home and thought: ‘How can we tighten up at the back? How do we stop conceding goals?’.

“I came up with the back three idea, which started with Scott McTominay there. We had to find a way of playing that was different and could become our identity.

“This group of players have now shown the Tartan Army and the people of Scotland they want to turn up and do well.

“I want us to be competitive every time we enter the pitch and we have to be like that if we want to consistently qualify for major tournaments.”

‘We want to be competitive no matter who we play’

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