When it comes to compiling a list of career highlights, winning promotion to the Premier League with Norwich City and scoring his first goal for Scotland would both feature prominently for Kenny McLean.
Yet both of those notable achievements have prompted very different emotions and degrees of celebration for the 27-year-old midfielder over the past few months.
As a member of his club’s Championship-winning squad, McLean earned cult status among their supporters during alcohol-fuelled title celebrations at City Hall when he declared himself Mayor of Norwich.
The jubilation and good humour of that occasion were in sharp contrast to the aftermath of McLean’s maiden goal for his country which set them on their way to a 2-0 win in San Marino back in March.
It earned Scotland their first three points of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign but their display did not spare them from hearing the displeasure of a Scotland support still reeling from the humiliating 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan a few days earlier, which would ultimately cost Alex McLeish his job as manager.
McLean is among those now hoping to earn the trust of new boss Steve Clarke whose tenure begins with Saturday night’s Group I match against Cyprus at Hampden. The former St Mirren and Aberdeen player is fit and focused on the task at hand after admitting he made the most of the opportunity to party in the wake of Norwich’s return to the top flight of English football after a three year absence.
“That was carnage and a mad few days,” said McLean as he recalled the events which saw his seizure of the mayoral hat on the balcony at Norwich’s civic HQ go viral.
“The celebrations got the better of me a wee bit but it was good. We deserved to enjoy ourselves for a few days and I maybe enjoyed it more than anybody else!
“Just before the open-top bus parade around the city, we were in the town hall and out on the balcony and the mayor was with us. His hat looked appealing. I stuck it on, took his bell and ended up addressing the crowd. I had a few drinks in me and that didn’t help.
“The mayor was tweeting me asking for his hat back because I kept it for the whole night. I grabbed it without his permission but, to be fair, he played along with it.
“The whole Mayor of Norwich thing was a great laugh but they have taken the title off me since then – I got a tweet when I was on holiday in Dubai last week, telling me that a new Mayor has been elected!
“Listen, it was a special day that everyone will remember. I just happened to top it off with a nice hat!”.
With his domestic campaign finishing five weeks ago, McLean has been following a training and conditioning regime provided by Scotland’s sports science staff to ensure he is ready to try and help the national team make a positive start to life under Clarke, pictured.
“The expectation is high from everybody in this squad – the management, the fans, everyone,” added McLean. “That is because we know how good the squad is and what we are capable of.
“The performance in San Marino wasn’t up to scratch and the fans had their own view on that. It was great for me to score for Scotland, it was obviously a proud moment personally, but we know we weren’t good enough that day But we got the win. Right now, we just need to look forward. We can’t dwell on what has happened in the last couple of games. We have got new management, we will get a lift from that right away. We have got two tough games coming up against Cyprus and Belgium. That is where the focus is.
“The new manager will put his stamp on what he wants to do with the team. But I think everybody knows what’s expected. We want to do as well as we can going into every game individually. We will take it one by one. We don’t want to go into games thinking there are superior teams to us. We are a very good team and we can take maximum points from every game we go into in this group.”
McLean is hopeful his own elevation to the English Premier League next season, along with several other Scottish players, will prove a benefit to Clarke going forward.
“You want to play at the highest level you can and there is nowhere higher than the Premier League,” he said. “To test yourself against the best will be something to really look forward to.
“We’ve already got Andy Robertson, who has done something special with Liverpool, and also Ryan Fraser and Stuart Armstrong who have been playing Premier League football. Next season, John McGinn at Aston Villa and John Fleck at Sheffield United are moving up to the Premier League the same as me. That’s brilliant for Scotland.”