Dundee Utd striker Lawrence Shankiand says becoming a father was more nerve-racking than taking play-off shoot-out penalty

Lawrence Shankland does not hesitate when asked what could be more terrifying than taking a penalty in a shoot-out to take a nation nearer to their first major finals in a generation.

Lawrence Shankland in action for Scotland against Israel earlier this month (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group) (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Lawrence Shankland in action for Scotland against Israel earlier this month (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group) (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

After all, he became a father for the first time just days after slotting home Scotland’s fourth penalty in the play-off semi-final victory over Israel earlier this month.

He compared the drawn-out affair that was Scotland v Israel with partner Nicole’s labour. “They both felt as long as each other, to be honest,” he joked. Shankland came on as a second-half substitute as Scotland toiled to break down the visitors. The game finished 0-0 after extra time. He was quick to nominate himself to take one of the penalties.

He converted the kick with little fuss as Scotland went on to win 5-3 on penalties after David Marshall saved Eran Zahavi’s effort. Shankland quickly plumped for attending Eva’s birth when asked what episode had been more nerve-racking.

“To be fair, it was a wee bit more relaxing maybe taking the penalty because there were no fans!” he said. “It was weird, I did not feel nervous through the week. We had hit them at the end of training and I had scored two and missed one – but the one I missed hit the inside of the post.

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“I knew I was confident going up and as a striker if you are a confident penalty taker, then nine times out of ten you should score, so I just had to be confident and I was happy to see it hit the net.”

Days later Eva arrived. Shankland dropped out of the squad for the game against Czech Republic after manager Steve Clarke gave him permission to stay with his family.

“I was away on the camp and after the second game against Slovakia she started to get pains,” he recalled. I’d already discussed it with the Scotland staff and they knew the situation that I might need to go at some point.

“The initial plan was to go away, isolate and get a test again to be involved in the last game but she didn’t end up giving birth until the morning of the night of the game. I’d been at the hospital all night from the day before and wouldn’t have been fit to play so I just stayed up the road and left them to it.”

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His Scotland team-mates did well enough without him but Shankland is hoping to re-join them ahead of next month’s trip to face Serbia in the play-off final.

“The squad will take care of itself in the coming weeks,’ he said. “I’m not going to say I’m looking forward to it, if I’m to be involved obviously I will, but until that point then it’s just about concentrating on (things) here and trying to get myself in the squad.”

Shankland was firm about one thing. Will there be a Bebeto-style goal celebration if he scores against St Johnstone today? The Brazil striker was the first to be credited with the “rocking baby” gesture after scoring for his country against the Netherlands during the 1994 World Cup.

“Absolutely not!” said Shankland, who should team-up with fellow Scotland striker Marc McNulty for the first time from the start at McDiarmid Park.

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