The appearance of two Champions League winners in Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad has boosted the morale of a previously beleaguered football nation. The captain, Andy Robertson, has tipped Billy Gilmour, who claimed the medal as an unused substitute for Chelsea last Saturday, to build upon this taste of success.
The 19-year-old’s Euros call-up was his first for his country’s full squad. After being given time off with his family, Gilmour could make his international debut – almost certainly from the bench – when Scotland face the Netherlands in Portugal on Wednesday evening.
Robertson won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2019 and asked whether the same experience may change Gilmour’s outlook said: “It only changes you if you allow it to change you. I have spoken to Billy a couple of times and the wee man seems very hungry to achieve everything he can
“To be able to get a Champions League winner’s medal so early is incredible but I don’t believe that will be him finished. He will be hungry for more now. He had a taste for success and for me and for all the Liverpool lads it drove us forward the next season to go and win the Premier League.
“When you get that feeling, when you get the night out that follows, the celebrations with your family and your fans, that makes you hungry for more and I’m sure Billy will be the exact same. He has a huge career ahead of him and it has already started so well. I have no doubt that he will stay humble, hungry and go on to achieve a lot more.”
Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, was boosted by Gilmour’s role, albeit peripheral, in Porto. “I was delighted for Chelsea,” he said. “I spent a long part of my career at Chelsea so I was delighted to see them win it again. But I was also delighted for Billy. He is relaxed and in a good place.”
Not that it is all rainbows and unicorns for Clarke. A positive Covid-19 test returned by John Fleck means the Sheffield United midfielder must isolate in Spain, where Scotland have been in a training camp, and faces a race to be available for the Group D match against the Czech Republic on 14 June. The remainder of the Scotland party have returned three negative tests.
“We’re 99.9% sure that John would have had it before he came to Spain, with the incubation period,” Clarke said. “Hopefully it’s an isolated case. I’ve spoken to John, he’s fine and has no symptoms. We’ll try and make his time stuck in his room as good as possible for him. We’ll get an exercise bike into his room and keep him moving.
“We’ll look after him, that’s all we can do. But we don’t really want that situation to be the big story. The big story is that we’re in camp and have had a fantastic time up until now.”
Frank de Boer, the Netherlands manager, has left Jasper Cillessen out of his Euros squad because of uncertainty over how long it will take the goalkeeper to recover from coronavirus. Cillessen tested positive last week. “I find this incredibly sad for Jasper but I had to take the plunge,” said De Boer. “We don’t know how long it will take until he is 100% fit again. I don’t want to take any chances.”