Scotland captain Andy Robertson believes qualifying for next year’s European Championship finals would be as special as lifting the Champions League with Liverpool.
The left-back maintains that playing for his country remains “the biggest honour” and, having come out on top in Europe’s premier club competition, he is now desperate to make an impact on the international stage.
The Liverpool defender, who last week flew the flag for his country as he and his Anfield colleagues beat Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid in the final of the world’s most prestigious club competition, has switched focus this week. But, speaking ahead of captaining Scotland in tonight’s crucial European Championship qualifier against Cyprus at Hampden, he says he is hungrier than ever for success.
“I want more of those feelings that I had on Saturday,” said Robertson. “I want more of that success at club level with Liverpool. It is not just a case of we have won the big cup and let’s all pack it in now. I want to win more trophies. I want to win more trophies for Liverpool and bring success to Scotland.
“To do that, we need to go again. We’ve got a new start now and we need to qualify for the Euros because that would be as special, I feel. It does make me more determined. Having those happy feelings, that success, I want to have that a lot more and I am sure all the lads want to experience it now.”
The first Scot since Paul Lambert in 1997 to play in a Champions League-winning team, the memories of that match and the celebrations in Madrid and then back in Liverpool, where hundreds of thousands lined the streets during the open-top bus parade, will live long in Robertson’s thoughts.
But while he savoured the moment, his mind quickly switched to international commitments as he flew north to join up with the rest of the Scotland squad. “I wanted to get up as quickly as I could so I arrived on Tuesday,” he said.
“ It’s been an incredible week but it’s all about trying to top it off now. The motivation is the same as it is for all the lads at Liverpool - we want to play as many games. But playing for your country is still thebiggest honour.
“It’s irrelevant what we’ve won and what we’ve done, it’s still a huge honour for me to lead the team out and walk out and play these important games.
“My full focus was always coming up here and whether I was struggling or not I was always going to come up here and at least get assessed. But luckily I’m fit and healthy and there’s no reason I can’t play these games.”
Robertson is now setting his sights on making more history by becoming the first Scotland captain to lead the men’s side to a major finals since 1998. Victory this evening will be crucial to that ambition.
Steve Clarke has replaced Alex McLeish at the helm, which has been hailed as a positive appointment by Roberston, and the team must now shrug off the disappointment of defeat in Kazakhstan early in the group stage and reassert themselves on a qualifying campaign before it is too late.
“I can’t tell you [how that would feel] until we do it,” he added. “Of course, I knew what we were going for last weekend and how good it would be to win the Champions League. But the feelings I felt were something I couldn’t have imagined.
“If, or hopefully when, we qualify for a Euros or a World Cup, I will be in a better position to answer that. But leading your country out in a major tournament, I know from the lads back in Liverpool that it is a huge honour. It’s something I want to do but we need to now take steps towards it.”