Scotland's qualification for Euro 2020 tournament can revitalise an unhealthy nation – Scotsman comment

Football is important to Scotland, as important as it is to any other country on the planet.

Ryan Christie scores against Serbia as Scotland secured a place in next year's delayed Euro 2020 championship to the delight of millions of people (Picture: Novak Djurovic/PA Wire)

So the ending of the interminable 22-year wait to qualify for a major tournament by the men’s international team – following historic first qualification for the women’s World Cup in France in 2019 – really does matter, as underlined by the tears of goalscorer Ryan Christie after the defeat of Serbia on penalties secured a place in the delayed Euro 2020 event.

One lesson from their success, applicable to politics, business and life in general, not just sport, is the value of good leadership and genuine expertise.

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Steve Clarke: the unassuming hero who has turned Scotland's fortunes around

With Steve Clarke as manager, Scotland have been swiftly and dramatically transformed; it was obvious to all watching on Thursday that they, not the much-fancied Serbs, were the better team. He achieved a similar feat after taking charge of a struggling Kilmarnock side in 2017, so this should not be a surprise.

Watching the national team take on the best teams in Europe next year will undoubtedly inspire many young people to take up the game and help our most talented youngsters believe that they can achieve similar heights.

However, that should not be the end of our ambitions for the knock-on effects of this sporting triumph.

Scotland is an unhealthy nation. Our diet is terrible, we drink too much and we do not get enough exercise. All of these things are killing us.

The Scotland team celebrates their first qualification for a major tournament in 22 years (Picture: Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

So it should be a political priority to turn Scotland into a sporting nation in which each and every one of us – from the youngest to the oldest – has a ‘sport’, by which we mean takes part in a regular physical activity, whether that be attempting to copy Christie’s goal in six-a-side game, going for a cycle ride or simply a walk. Do this and we would all live longer, healthier and happier lives.

But, in the meantime, we should not underestimate the happiness created by the national team and we sincerely hope they can go on to emulate the women’s side by qualifying for the men’s World Cup too.

Given Clarke took Kilmarnock from the bottom of the league to the top in just over a year, who knows, we might just… no, we remember Argentina in ’78, we’re not going to say it.

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