Grant Hanley has urged his Scotland teammates to treat this summer’s Euros like any other game in order to make sure that they do not let the occasion get to them.
The Norwich captain is coming off the high of a fantastic season at Carrow Road, where Daniel Farke’s men romped to the Championship title to ensure that they will be back in the Premier League next term.
Now, Hanley’s attention must turn to the European Championships, which will be Scotland’s first major tournament for 23 years, when the team finished bottom of their group at the 1998 World Cup.
When asked how he and his side plan to deal with the pressure that will be heaped on them during a recent episode of the High Performance Podcast, Hanley explained that keeping everything in perspective will be crucial if Scotland are to have a successful tournament.
He said: “My own personal way of looking at it is that it’s great that we’re there, obviously it’s unbelievable for the nation. It means so much to the supporters. But you’ve got to not make it bigger than what it is.
“It’s another game of football. Obviously unbelievably important. But, I think for experiences like this, because they’re so big and you build them up so much in your head, they can pass you by.
“I think it’s important to be present. I think you’ve got to be there and you’ve got to live it. And you’ve got to be there for that experience. I think being present in that moment will be so important. And I think that’s probably the only way that we will, or anybody, any player that’s going to the Euros, will perform.”
Scotland have been placed in a group with Croatia, Czech Republic and England.
The England clash will take place at Wembley, almost 25 years to the day since the two sides met at the same venue during Euro ’96. On that particular sunny afternoon, England registered a 2-0 victory, with Paul Gascoigne’s stunning solo goal sealing the win for the hosts.
Scotland will get their shot at redemption next week, in what promises to be a fierce encounter between two proud nations.
It is a game that Scotland’s players will have been looking forward to ever since they edged past Serbia in a qualification play-off last November, but they will need to take Hanley’s words of wisdom on board and keep their cool if they are to stand a chance of overcoming Gareth Southgate’s side.