One positive from Euro 2020: a Celtic Scottish core to be proud of

By Euan Davidson

June 23, 2021

As a Celtic supporter and an avid follower of the Scottish national team, like most of you, Scotland’s Euro 2020 exit last night has led to some soul-searching.

That double gut-punch of missed opportunity and misery have come back again. And I’m not going to be one of those people who was just delighted we were there. But neither is there any need for a sense of doom just yet. It’s still too raw a wound, too bleak an aftermath to consider what the “right way” ahead is.

Some are calling for Steve Clarke to go, others are saying we should be happy we made it at all. You might lie somewhere in the middle, or veer wildly off either side. It’s still too early to conduct a post-mortem on Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign, in truth.

However, there is one gleaming positive we can take from it; Celtic have a very strong contingent of Scottish players. They’ll be back again at a major tournament before they hang up their boots.

Of course, the reactionary take here is that Callum McGregor is a very decent footballer. His goal last night sparked scenes of utter joy across Scotland and around the world. More than that, though, he probably changed the perception from much of the Tartan Army in this tournament. We plead for his selection against England, and he was monumental. He outshone a ridiculously expensive England midfield. Then, for his finishing act, he got us back into the game against Croatia.

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If anyone has doubts over how good Callum McGregor can actually be, they’re surely vanquished for at least a while. However, he was the only Celtic mainstay involved to any great degree. Greg Taylor didn’t see any action as reasonably expected, given his competition. James Forrest and David Turnbull’s snubs tell their own story, while Ryan Christie being played in the wrong position had familiar consequences against the Czech Republic.

Celtic’s Scotland contingent at Euro 2020 have nothing to be ashamed of

If anything, the experience of going to these tournaments, particularly for Turnbull and Christie, is valuable. And regardless of the outcome, their names are etched in history. This was the squad that broke our 23-year run, and McGregor got the goal to end another dismal record. The last scorer for Scotland in a major finals? Also a Celtic man, in Craig Burley.

And just like 1998, the Celtic contingent who travelled are coming back with credit in the bank. Nobody disgraced themselves here. Jack Hendry looks to be away [Daily Record], and so it’s dubious whether to count him, but of the players who were actually at Celtic in 20-21, none of them have let themselves down in the slightest. Admittedly, few actually got a chance to, but it’s the highest level of experience you could ask for.

James Forrest: could’ve been useful against Croatia / (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Taylor, Forrest, Christie and Turnbull now have that motivation to make them undroppable. They won’t want to have gone to their first and last international tournament. McGregor, meanwhile, has shut a lot of doubters up with two top performances out of a possible two. Scotland lacked his mobility, tackling and metronomic passing against the Czechs; against England he was outstanding.

He’s proven, if anything, that’s he’s more than capable of leading a team. Fine, results didn’t go our way in the end, but McGregor had the initiative to get Scotland back in the game against Croatia. That’s captaincy stuff, that.

Again, it’s still too early to fully realise the permutations of last night. But if we can snaffle one acorn of hope from a Celtic perspective, it’s that these guys can cut it at international level, when given the chance.

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