Ryan Porteous believes making his Scotland debut was the best day of his career so far – and he’s keen to experience more international football in the European Championship qualifiers.
The Watford defender caught the eye with his first performance in a Scotland shirt against Ukraine last year and is now with Steve Clarke’s squad as they prepare for the home qualifier against Cyprus on Saturday, and the match against Spain at Hampden three days later.
Porteous says nothing has compared to that thrill of playing at the highest level and it’s been a long wait for the next international camp to come around.
“I would say it was the best day of my career,” the 23-year-old said when reflecting on the Ukraine game.
“It’s that sort of feeling that I’ve been chasing for the last six months and not had an opportunity to do it so now that I’m back in the camp, I’m buzzing again. Hopefully there’ll be opportunities in the next couple of games.
“It was quite a long time coming. I had been called up in a good few camps before then and I always had that faith that the manager would chuck me in, from the conversations I had with him. He had no hesitation to do that and he had no doubts in me. It was a great feeling, a great experience and I’m glad it went well.”
Porteous came through the ranks at Hibernian and became a high-profile player for the Easter Road side, attracting as many critics as he did fans. He says he didn’t let anything knock his confidence as he pushed for international recognition and was more concerned about showing Scotland manager Clarke a strong performance than silencing others.
“I’m quite a confident lad and I do back myself,” he said. “I knew that I was ready and I had the faith in the manager and the team. It was maybe a moment that shut a few people up and stuff like but I’ve been quite good at not listening or reading the press in the last couple of years because it’s not always been a fantastic place for me.
“I’m glad it went well and it’s about kicking on now and trying to get that next cap.
“Hopefully it shows I can be trusted on the big stage, but there’s a very talented group with a lot of good defenders and players. I just want to put my name in the hat for a start.”
The ambitious centre-back earned a transfer from Hibs to Watford in January and, after a goal-scoring debut, has been getting used to life in the English Championship. While Porteous relished his time at Easter Road, he says the move has accelerated his development.
“It gives me the opportunity to become a better player faster,” he explained. “If I’m doing that, hopefully I can reap some rewards. I think I’m in a good place right now and enjoying my football.
“There are no easy games in the Championship but to be fair I don’t think there’s an easy game in Scotland either. There’s people can be quite naïve about how tough the Scottish league can be.
“But since I’ve been down there, there’s not been an easy game.
“It’s big, physical, you’re playing Saturday-Tuesday most weeks. It takes a toll but you’re playing games and at this age especially, that’s what you want to do.
“With the players I’m playing beside now, I can learn a lot and I can learn fast. I’m excited and I feel I’m in a good place.
“There’s a lot of cultures in the changing room, a lot of different languages being spoken and I’m enjoying it.”