Steven Whittaker asked Aston Villa star and former teammate John McGinn for Euro 2020 tickets – but the former Scotland right-back says he’ll be rooting for the nation from home.
Scotland travel to England on Friday to face Gareth Southgate’s side in the second Euro 2020 Group D match. Having lost 2-0 to Czech Republic on Monday, Scotland are in need of a positive result at Wembley to provide hope of knockout round entry. Whittaker wanted to be at the group stages games, asking Aston Villa star McGinn for tickets.
Whittaker featured with McGinn at Hibs before his move to Aston Villa, while also playing together on the international scene. One of Whittaker’s 31 caps for Scotland came against England at Wembley in 2013 during a 3-2 defeat and the Dunfermline first-team coach tells NTOF it’ll be an occasion to savour – even if he won’t be there.
He said: “I watched the England game against Croatia to see what we are coming up against in the group. I thought England dominated the Croatia game and all the pundits were buzzing with it. I know the scoreline of 1-0 says it was close but they could have won by more. They have so much quality in their side.
“But we have quality in our side too and we can hurt them as much as they can hurt us. I played at Wembley in Kenny Miller’s last game. To play at a full Wembley was fantastic. But we didn’t win the game, although we did get the plaudits, despite getting beat 3-2. We would have liked the result.
“Gareth Southgate has brought through the youth and they have a flux of talented players. They have brilliant players so it will be tough, but it’s a one-off game, and anything can happen. I asked John McGinn for tickets before the Covid-19 restrictions but I didn’t make the cut! I’ll just be watching on the TV.”
Euro 2020 is Scotland’s first major tournament since 1998, Whittaker one of several Scottish players to have missed out on featuring at the top table. But the former right-back says Scotland manager Steve Clarke has performed admirably to get the country to this point.
He explained: “We were unlucky at times and never managed to get to a major tournament. It’s one of the levels I never quite managed to make. For one reason or another we didn’t do it but it’s great to see the guys there for the country, fans, and everybody connected with the national team.
“The more players in the national team are playing at the highest level possible, it is only going to benefit us. The other players are always pushing themselves alongside these players and that has shown in the performances. Everyone is doing their bit when they pull the jersey on.
“You need to build from a foundation. It wasn’t going to magically fix overnight and if you look at Scotland when Steve Clarke took over to now, the performances have improved. It’s quite exciting to watch and the tournament is exciting, It’s great to see so many players playing at a high level.
“We took the different route into this by beating Serbia in the Nations League play-off. We didn’t have that option to play at a major finals so it’s great for these guys to have that chance.”
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