Liam Kelly’s first international cap will not only “make the goalkeeper a better player”, but also a “better person”.
That is the view of Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell after his captain played 45 minutes against France on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old has been part of Scotland squads since 2019 but has had to bide his time for a taste of first-team action due to the form of the likes of David Marshall, Craig Gordon and Angus Gunn.
Steve Clarke handed him his first start in the friendly played in Lille in what proved to be a baptism of fire against players including PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe and AC Milan forward Olivier Giroud.
He was replaced at half-time by Hearts stopper Zander Clark, who was also earning his first cap, as the national team fell to a 4-1 defeat to the World Cup finalists.
After the game Kelly admitted playing for his country was the best night of his life and his manager agrees that it will do him the world of good going forward.
Speaking on Thursday, Kettlewell said: “I was delighted, there is a real affinity with Liam and this football club and how good he has been here.
“He is our captain, and he is our captain for a reason because of the type of character he is. It’s a little bit unusual now in the modern game that you see a goalkeeper being a captain and I think that speaks volumes for not just what he does on the pitch but also what he does off the park.
“I have an excellent relationship with him and I trust him implicitly with the messaging that needs to go to the group and the management of the changing room, which I spoke about away back when I first came in.
“He is exceptional at all of those things and I think there is a part in it as well that when you continually turn up at camps it is an honour to be a part of the national setup, of course it is.
“I think it was a wonderful gesture from Steve, I don’t think it was a token gesture either as I think he acknowledges that he has two very good goalkeepers in Zander Clark and Liam and I think he’s given them the opportunity to play at that level and get out on the field to experience what it’s like.
“And I think that’s the type of experience that they will remember for a long, long time and now they have had a taste of it they will want more as well, it’s not just a case of turning up to make up the numbers, it’s a serious game against one of the top teams in the world and some of the best players in the world.
“So I’m fairly certain that Liam is going to come back as a better goalkeeper and a better person for that. Because I think when you expose yourself to that it can only ever be a good thing.
“If you look at the goals he conceded, I don’t think he can do anything about any of the three goals and Zander the same with the fourth one as well, but knowing Liam I think getting his fingertips to Mbappe’s penalty is something that is going to irk him, but it’s arguably the world’s best player that’s put it in the back of the net.
“He will take loads from it and I’m delighted for him, it will give him a real boost coming back in to our group.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country