Clarke: Scotland heads 'held high' after early Euros qualification

The Scotland boss said he was proud to be 'walking through the front door' of the tournament having qualified via the play-offs last time.

Steve Clarke insists Scotland will march into Euros with ‘heads held high’ after qualification SNS Group

Steve Clarke insists Scotland will march into next summer’s European Championship with their “heads held high” after qualifying from their group at the weekend.

The Scots reached Euro 2020 – their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup – through the safety net of the Nations League play-off final win over Serbia on penalties.

Clarke’s men qualified for their second successive Euros on Sunday night when Norway were defeated 1-0 by Spain in Oslo.

With a trip to Georgia and a home game against Norway remaining next month, the Scots have 15 points from six fixtures and are behind Group A leaders and fellow qualifiers Spain on goal difference.

Ahead of the friendly against France in Lille on Tuesday night, where team changes were promised, Clarke said: “I’m really proud of the players.

“It is fantastic for them to be at a second major finals after such a long barren period.

“The last time we qualified for the Euros it was through the play-off system.

“It felt a little bit like sneaking in the back door.

“This time we can walk straight in the front door with our heads held high and look forward to a good tournament next summer.

“But before that we have to finish the group properly, we have two competitive games next month and we want to finish on a high.

“I said when we qualified for the last tournament that we want to be at major tournaments more often.

“We missed out on the World Cup in the play-offs which was sore but we obviously learned some lessons from that – don’t leave it to chance, don’t leave it to a one-off game and we managed to do that.

“We want a really good match tomorrow against a team who is probably the best in the world, we have two competitive games next month to finish the group and it would be nice to think we can match the tally of Spain, that is something to aspire to so we will try to do that.

“Then we will wait on the draw and see what that brings us and then we will start to plan for the summer.”

Clarke is adamant that the Scots are not happy at simply making the finals of another tournament and is expecting the backing of a huge Tartan Army in Germany.

He said: “I am not sure Germany is ready for five million people to turn up. It seems like everybody you speak to is going to be in Germany next summer.

“I am sure it won’t be five million but we will certainly take a big crowd.

“We want to go there and be a success. What is success for Scotland? It is probably to be the first Scottish national team to come out of a group stage at a major competition.

“So that is something that we can aspire to in the future but lots of steps before that.

“Right at the beginning I believed this team was good enough to qualify from this group and thankfully they have proved me right.

“We have lost two games in a row so we are aware of that and we don’t want to lose three in a row.

“We have to play as well as we can and whoever starts for them, it will be a big test.”

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