Scotland skipper Andy Robertson aims to keep the country smiling as Steve Clarke’s squad prepare to end a 23-year absence from the big stage of international football.
From qualifying for six out of seven World Cups from 1974 and reaching consecutive European Championships in the 1990s, Scotland suffered a painful exile from the top table.
That will end when Robertson leads his team-mates out at Hampden for Monday’s clash with the Czech Republic.
And the Liverpool left-back aims to inspire a nation and new generations of Scotland supporters.
“A two o’clock kick-off, maybe the schools can give them a special pass to watch the game,” the 27-year-old said.
“We want the whole country behind us and kids are a huge part of our fan base.
“Yeah, there are young kids that haven’t seen us in a major tournament, but unfortunately there are also teenagers and people in their early 20s who haven’t seen us.
“I’m excited for them, I’m excited for the older generation that were maybe used to us qualifying and now they get to see us back there.
“We have not long got back to Scotland and you can feel the buzz already around Glasgow and I’m sure it’s like that in every city and town. We hope that continues for the duration of the tournament.
“It’s up to us try and keep a smile on their faces and that’s certainly one of our huge motivations for this tournament.”
The Scotland fans will also be making a comeback after more than 18 months away from Hampden.
“The fact we will walk out in front of fans again will be incredible,” said Robertson.
“I would have loved it to be a full house, but what’s going on in the world now isn’t allowing that. But to have 12,000 in will be great, to have some of our family in will be even better.
“But I’m sure all beer gardens, I’m sure all gardens and houses will be packed. I am sure the whole nation will be watching and we will feel that support, feel that love, and hopefully we can do them proud.”
Robertson experienced a partial crowd again last month when 10,000 Liverpool fans returned to Anfield.
“All the boys at Liverpool said when we ran out there were goosebumps because, sadly, we had become used to empty stadiums,” he said.
“We are getting close to normality hopefully, in life in general, but in football as well. Yeah, it’s a wee bit different but having fans in stadiums makes a huge difference and I am sure Monday will be no different.
“The last time Scotland fans were in was the Kazakhstan game and a lot has changed since then. A lot has changed in the team and the squad and the belief in the squad, and hopefully they see that.”
That confidence received a major boost when Scotland beat Serbia in Belgrade in November to book their place at the delayed finals.
“We were well on our way then, but it gave us more belief,” the former Queen’s Park, Dundee United and Hull defender said.
“Since the manager came in, he always said we are a good squad, good players, but it just seems there is a bit of belief lacking.
“Being able to qualify for a tournament for the first time in 23 years, it gives you that belief that you can go and do it again, that you can perform in the big tournaments.
“I would like us to have more belief and confidence and be able to show what we can do hopefully we can do that on the biggest stage, because if we do we are a right good team on our day.”
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