Scotland manager Steve Clarke praises fans for helping Scotland become ‘feared once again’

Scotland manager Steve Clarke hailed his players for reaching successive European Championships and doubts they “will fully realise the significance of their achievement yet”.

It is the just the fourth men’s Euros qualification in Scotland’s history.

“I would like to congratulate the players in qualifying for back-to-back tournaments,” said Clarke.

“I would also like to thank my backroom team for their support and, of course, the fans who have packed Hampden Park to capacity and made it a place to be feared once again.

“They have played a key part in our success, both home and away, and they can now look forward to making their plans for Germany – although I suspect many had done so before tonight.

“I said after Euro 2020 that we wanted to be serial qualifiers again and reaching successive Euro finals shows the progress we’ve made. We will raise a glass tonight to celebrate but then it’s back to work tomorrow in preparation for our friendly against France.

“Then we turn our attention to Georgia and Norway next month and finishing with as many points as we can.”

The men’s side had gone 23 years without making a major tournament until Euro 2020, and Clarke is the first manager to lead the nation to consecutive European Championships.

The Scots exited at the group stage of the delayed finals two years ago and captain Andy Robertson says the target next summer is to improve on that showing.

“It’s a great achievement for this squad to have qualified for Euro 2024 with two games remaining,” said Robertson.

“When we qualified via the play-offs last time, we set ourselves a target of doing it automatically next time – so that’s the first mission accomplished.

“Euro 2020 was a great experience and the objective for us next summer is to build on that previous experience and improve on our last overall tournament performance.

“Our fans have been immense. We thank them for playing a huge part in our success and we look forward to seeing them in Germany in their tens of thousands.”

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell says “a huge amount has changed” during Clarke’s tenure as manager, with back-to-back European Championship qualification secured after a gap of more than 20 years.

“The players and Steve deserve a huge amount of credit,” he told BBC ‘Good Morning Scotland’.

“Even when the draw was made, everybody would have taken an ‘all or nothing’ match in that last game against Norway, but the players have been incredible.

“To qualify as one of the first teams is an incredible achievement. We need to now back ourselves as being a good team – and good sides win games.”

Maxwell believes there are significant differences between next summer’s tournament and Euro 2020, which was delayed by a year and subject to restrictions because of the Covid pandemic.

“There were only 12,500 people allowed at the games whereas there will be more than 12,500 Scots in Germany next summer,” he added.

“The last Euros were in Scotland, which was great, but the Tartan Army want to go somewhere, they want to travel.

“We also qualified in the play-offs in March when the finals were in June whereas now we can plan more and think about the friendlies in March and June.”

Despite the financial boost of another major tournament – and with Euro 2028 also coming to the country – Maxwell played down hopes of Hampden Park being notably overhauled.

“The changes will be cosmetic as much as anything else – there is not going to be significant infrastructure,” he said.

“That just comes down to finance. I fully appreciate the view behind the goals isn’t great and that’s something supporters want us to be able to fix – the reality is we don’t have the finance to do that.

“That’s going to be hundreds of millions of pounds and even if we had that I’m not sure the priority would be doing up Hampden, we want to do a lot more for the game around the country and the facilities problem we have.”

‘Unbelievable achievement’ – reaction

Former Scotland captain Willie Miller

Well done Scotland, fabulous group campaign it’s not often we do it the easy way!

Former Scotland striker Steven Thompson

It’s amazing. I’m so pleased for the new generation of Scotland fans who haven’t experienced the feeling of watching their team at a major men’s tournament, now they’ll get to do it for a second time in quick succession.

These players are creating history and amazing memories for so many people. Heroes.

Ex-Scotland midfielder Leanne Crichton

An unbelievable achievement from Steve Clarke and his side. Two games remaining in this group and the target for Scotland will be maximum points. But regardless, they’ll be in Germany next year.

Former Scotland midfielder Michael Stewart on Viaplay

Unbelievable. To qualify automatically with two games to spare is some achievement. We’re sitting level with Spain, only behind them on goal difference. That speaks volumes.

We look forward to the Euros and look to the next challenge – getting out of the groups. They are absolutely capable of that.

‘Arise Sir Steve Clarke’ – the Tartan Army rejoice

Fraser: Been going to games since 2005. Long, long overdue after years in the wilderness and humiliation time and again. Arise Sir Steve Clarke.

Murray: Unbelievable! Two games to spare! Let’s win these last two matches and win this group, which looked awful when the draw was made (considering we were pot two). We’re going past the group stage!

Amy: We were at a gig and the anthemic last song was playing as the result came through to my phone. About ten random strangers started cheering and hugging each other. What a moment and I’m super glad those flights to Germany booked last month aren’t worthless.

William: A fantastic achievement and Steve Clarke deserves every single bit of praise coming his way… I’m not sure Germany are aware of what is heading their way!

Karen: Well done Scotland what a campaign. Fights booked months ago, we always had faith.

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