Scotland's Scott McTominay ready for another Wembley fairytale as he returns to the scene of his schoolboy triumph
Given his career trajectory at Manchester United, it’s safe to assume Scott McTominay has many more chapters to write in his personal Wembley story.
But how the Scotland midfielder would savour the moment if his latest appearance at the great stadium on Friday night provides him with a memory to match his first.
McTominay was just 11 years old when he scored the winning goal for St Wilfrid’s Primary School in a Community Cup final under the Wembley arch in 2008.
It remains the stuff of local legend in Halton, the Lancaster village where McTominay grew up, with the goal recalled as a fine left foot finish at the end of a mazy solo run.
There will be a more disciplined role for McTominay against England as Steve Clarke’s team try to secure a result which will maintain their hopes of progressing from Group D in the Euro 2020 finals.
“I’m sure we’d all love a repeat of me scoring at Wembley,” says McTominay with a smile.
“But we’ll wait and see. We need to be focused and concentrate on what we need to do against England. It’s not just an occasion we’re playing, it’s a game as well.
“It can’t be about everyone getting lost in emotions and losing focus. We have to concentrate on our jobs and everything we do well as individuals, which is why we’re playing for Scotland.
“But that game for my primary school team is a great memory. It’s a shame it wasn’t recorded – that would give people a taste that I’ve got a half decent left foot when I want to use it!
“At such a young age, it was a surreal feeling for me. It almost feels similar to the atmosphere I have now – back in a hotel in London, knowing I’m playing at Wembley the next day.
“It’s special and something that, for both games, is something I’ll never forget.
“My team-mate from that primary school team, Dan Towers, is one of my best friends and he’ll be in the crowd on Friday.
“I like to get all my people, my close friends, to watch all of my games. Me and Dan have been best friends for many, many years now.
“My mum and dad, all my family will be in the crowd, my grandparents will be in the crowd.
“So, yes, there will be a good squad cheering on me and Scotland. Hopefully, we can put on a show.
“What would I give for another Wembley winner? I’d give everything in the world.
“I was a young pup back then, learning my trade. I couldn’t have had a better upbringing and I’m so proud of what’s happened over the years since then.”
McTominay will win his 25th cap on Friday, earning him a commemorative silver medal from the Scottish FA. His decision to commit himself to the land of his Glaswegian father Frank, despite a rival approach from England manager Gareth Southgate, has certainly been vindicated.
“I’ve never regretted my choice, never even thought about it once,” says McTominay.
“Playing for Scotland means everything to me. I respect Gareth Southgate so much as manager and what he’s done with the England team. He is a class act.
“It will be special to make my 25th appearance at Wembley. I know I can do more. I know that 25 caps is only the beginning.
“I’ve conducted myself really well in terms of turning up for every camp I’ve been asked to. I want to play every single game for Scotland, I’ve never shied away from that.
“Hopefully, the next 75 or so – if I get to that level – will be much better. It’s been a hell of a journey so far. So I’m proud.”
Friends and rivals
McTominay could find himself up against several of his club team-mates at Wembley, including his close friend Marcus Rashford. He has known the England striker since they joined the Manchester United academy system as eight-year-olds.
“Me and Marcus have played together for many, many years now and we get on really well,” he said.
“We’ve always had that close bond, and it’s the same with the other Manchester United lads who play for England - Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Dean Henderson, although unfortunately Dean had to go home because of injury.
“I get on well with them all. But obviously, Friday’s a different day. They're not in my team.”
Point to prove
There was a sense of simmering determination in McTominay’s voice as he reflected on Scotland’s disappointing 2-0 defeat against Czech Republic at Hampden on Monday in their opening group game.
“For 24 hours afterwards, the atmosphere was a little bit quiet,” he said. “But we’ve had time to digest it and now we’ve got the chance to put things back to where they should be.
“The result was a bit of a dampener but the way we actually played, the chances we created, we weren’t too bad. I felt people over exaggerated in their reaction to it. But we’re focused on the England game now.
“Yes, the team is like a wounded animal now and whenever you’ve got a wounded animal, it’s dangerous. So we’re ready to go and attack the game at Wembley and obviously have full concentration.
“It’s a huge game, it’s a huge moment for everyone. It’s not a time to get lost emotionally in a football match.
“You have to have ice in your brains and fire in your belly. That’s what the manager always says. For sure, we believe. The confidence is there in our squad, it’s there to be seen.”
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