Christophe Berra witnessed Arsenal star Kieran Tierney and captain Andy Robertson break into the Scotland ranks – and the former national team centre-back can’t wait to see them at Euro 2020.
The 36-year-old – now with Raith Rovers – played in the early days of the 3-5-2 system manager Steve Clarke now uses with Scotland, Arsenal man Tierney a star on the left-hand side. Players like the London defender and Liverpool left-back Robertson all broke into national team plans while Berra was still involved, his last cap coming in 2017.
Both will be key at Euro 2020 this month, Scotland’s first major tournament in 23 years. 41-cap Berra tells NTOF that it’s nice to see a young squad emerge: “When I was coming towards the end, Robertson and players like that had been in a bit.
“He hadn’t made that big move yet to Liverpool and Tierney was doing well and just breaking into things at Celtic. I missed out on Scott McTominay, I hadn’t heard of him yet. My last game was Malky Mackay’s caretaker match against Netherlands, that era was when things started to change.
“There were more younger ones making an impact as players like myself and Charlie Mulgrew were coming to the end, over our 30s. It was different then and a new generation was coming. We had a really good record under Gordon Strachan and we were only one or two results away from qualifying as well.
“It was a lot easier to qualify for this tournament but no matter what, there are good foundations to move forward under the right management, and right now that is Steve Clarke. He has done a fabulous job. Scotland had to go through the play-offs to get here which isn’t easy. We’ll go into the tournament full of confidence and belief.”
Berra featured in big games like facing England at Wembley, a game which Scotland will repeat at the Euros alongside Hampden games against Czech Republic and Croatia. He’s hoping the nation can avoid heartbreak like 2017, when Harry Kane’s last-minute goal secured a 2-2 draw for England at Wembley, and find Euros success too.
He said: “I played in a back-three with Charlie Mulgrew and Kieran Tierney, all left-footers in a back three! It won’t be quite 90,000 this time at Wembley but overall I have not too bad memories against England. That 2-2 game, we were seconds away from one of the best national team results before Harry Kane snuck up with the winner.
“The England games feel like ages ago now. The last one was 2017 and the 2-2 game, June 10th, I remember it very well. It’s not until you get older than you think about how lucky you were to represent your country. You love it in the moment but when you sit back, you never get those moments again unless you become the manager.
“They were great occasions to be involved. I think it is a team that nobody will like playing against. It’s not just because we’ll be hard to beat, we have got some good players now too, with players playing at a high level in the Premier League. I am quietly confident and hopefully we have a good chance of getting out the group. There are no games to fear.”
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