While a debut goal eluded him on a night when he was mostly feeding on scraps, nothing could diminish Eamonn Brophy’s pride and delight at becoming a Scotland international.
The Kilmarnock striker was given 24 hours notice by manager Steve Clarke that he would be leading the line for his country in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Cyprus on Saturday. It may take a while longer for Brophy to fully appreciate his new status.
“It is unbelievable to be a Scotland player,” said the 23-year-old. “When you walk into that home dressing room at Hampden and see the number nine jersey with your name on top of it - it was an incredible moment for me.
“It is every boys’ dream to play for his country and I was no different. It was my first call up to the squad, so to actually start the game was amazing. It is the highlight of my career by an absolute mile and I am still trying to take it all in.
“In the last few days of training, we had been doing shape work and I had a rough idea I might be starting. The gaffer didn’t announce the team until Friday night and I was delighted to be involved. To start for Scotland was a proud moment for me and my family.
“When I left Hamilton to join Kilmarnock two years ago, the chance to play for Scotland was never in my mind. Steve Clarke came in to Killie and even then the thought of playing for my country wasn’t in my thoughts. I just wanted to get back playing and enjoying my football again and me made me do that. He believes in me, and he still does to give me my first cap for my country. I have a lot to thank him for.”
Brophy was unable to repay Clarke’s faith with a goal, coming closest with a stretching first half header which flew narrowly wide. Instead, the headlines were grabbed by his late replacement, Oliver Burke, who grabbed Scotland’s 89th minute winner after Cyprus had cancelled out Andy Robertson’s stunning opener.
“The most important thing was the result,” added Brophy. “Cyprus made it difficult for us but we got the three points and that’s all that matters.
“I knew I was struggling to get there with that header and it went wide. I didn’t get too many chances but we got the win and that’s the most important thing. It was massive for Oli to get that winner.
“Their back three didn’t move at all during the game and it was hard for me to find space in behind them. It was a tough shift and different from what I am used to. I enjoyed it though and it was a new experience for me.
“I will go away now and try and see what I can improve on and be better next time. I will learn from this. I did the best I could and hopefully I did well enough to get more caps.”
It will only get tougher for Brophy if he retains his place in Clarke’s starting line-up tomorrow night when Scotland face a Belgian side boasting the defensive talents of Vincent Kompany, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld.
“If I get the chance to play against the type of defenders Belgium have it will be great because I will be testing myself against some of the best in the world,” added Brophy. “They have class players, but hopefully I get that chance.
“It will be a very difficult game but we will set up well and try and do our best. We have to go there and believe we can get something. I have worked with Steve Clarke for 18 months at Killie and I know how he will set up. He will try and make it as hard as possible for the Belgians.
“They are a top team but we are confident we can get a good result. At Kilmarnock we went to places like Parkhead and Ibrox and got the result. We will all know what our jobs are and we want to go there and do the country proud.
“I have absolute faith in the gaffer and he is perfect for the job. Everyone will know their role in the team because that is the way he works.”