Liam Cooper says there’s a lingering regret from Scotland players that they didn’t give the best account of themselves at Euro 2020 – and they aim to rectify that next year.
The men’s national team ended a decades-long wait to return to a major finals when they reached the last European Championships but exited at the group stage after a draw against England and defeats to Croatia and Czech Republic.
With qualification for Germany 2024 already assured with two games to play, Cooper feels able to look ahead to the next finals and says he and others have a drive to show what they are capable of next time around.
While Scotland won’t know their group stage opponents until December 2, the centre-back is targeting the knockout stages and some memorable results.
“As professionals, I think we put that expectation on ourselves immediately after the last Euros,” Cooper said.
“I don’t think we did ourselves justice in that tournament.
“It was a lot of lads’ first taste of a major tournament, including myself, and straight after that we agreed among ourselves that we didn’t really do ourselves justice.
“We’ve got a lot of people, including ourselves, to prove to that we belong there and we can get through the group stages.
“We’ve got an honest bunch of lads and we hold ourselves accountable. We want to be satisfied with the way we performed. “
Before then, the team still have two qualifiers remaining, away to Georgia on Thursday and against Norway at Hampden on Sunday. Steve Clarke and his players have delivered on their main objective by qualifying ahead of time but now want to build momentum and continue to grow as a group.
Cooper added: “We’ve done well in this qualification campaign, to qualify with two games to spare is amazing, but it can’t stop there.
“To be even more successful, we’ve got to go and do ourselves justice at the Euros. I’m lucky enough to have been at the last Euros, but if the goalposts don’t change once you’ve had a taste of that and you don’t want to go and improve on it next time, then there’s no point in you being here.”
The Leeds United player acknowledged the excitement amongst the Tartan Army as the tournament draws closer and the demand for tickets. That will only increase after next month’s draw but clarity over venues and opposition will be welcome.
“We’re obviously buzzing for that,” Cooper said. “We can then get booked and our friends and families can start getting booked up.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare not knowing where we’ll be playing, every person I’ve spoken to has booked about 20 hotels on free cancellation so it will be nice to know where we’re going to be based.
“Once all the logistics of it are sorted out then you can really start to look forward to it. But we’re professionals and we understand there’s a lot of football to be played before then and there’s still a [squad selection] big decision to be made by the manager so there will be no getting too carried away.”
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