Steve Clarke gets Scotland satisfaction in more ways than one as he relishes Hampden return

Scotland boss Steve Clarke says he takes as much pride in filling Hampden again as he does in reaching major tournaments.

The national team gaffer finally got the country back to a final two years ago when his team competed at Euro 2020. And after just missing out on a World Cup spot last time out, qualification for the European Championships in 2024 kicks off on Saturday against Cyprus. Hampden is a sell-out for that game and a clash with Spain three days later.

You are reading: Steve Clarke gets Scotland satisfaction in more ways than one as he relishes Hampden return

And Clarke says giving the Tartan Army a side they can believe in again fills him with as much joy as actually reaching a tournament. He said: “On Saturday there will be 50,000 people in the stadium. I think that’s a measure of how much the squad and the team have improved. And how much the Scottish public now believe in this team. For me, that’s a good thing. That gives me as much satisfaction as qualifying.

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“Because I think it proves you’re doing the right things and that we’re moving forward in the right way. We reached the Euro 2020 Finals and we had a good World Cup qualifying campaign.

“Obviously it was disappointing to lose the play-off but we then got promoted to Nations League A. So there has been gradual movement forward. Hopefully we can continue that in this campaign and get what we want, which is qualification for another major tournament.”

The Cyprus clash will bring back memories of Clarke’s first game as Scotland manager in June 2019 when Oliver Burke’s 89th minute winner gave him a victory in front of a half-full Hampden.

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Clarke said: “Andy Robertson scored the first goal for 1-0 then Oli came off the bench to score the winner. It was nice to start with a win. I remember there were only 25,000 at Hampden. It wasn’t the most enthusiastic crowd we’ve ever played in front of.

“They were like: ‘Go on then, entertain us’! And we struggled. Cyprus were good, we couldn’t break them down and it took a late goal. It was a great way for the players to start. And the next few games showed me where we were as a national team.”


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