The right wing-back was one of Scotland’s best players and deserved to be in the thick of things afterwards as the party music blared in the dressing room. Others not involved in the drama on the pitch, including the squad chef, were just as prominent amid the celebrations as Scotland celebrated qualifying for their first major finals since 1998.
“It’s a great bunch of boys and everyone works so hard for each other,” said O’Donnell. “It was amazing to be in that dressing room jumping around to ‘I can Boogie’. We even had Johnny the chef in there dancing along with us. He wasn’t part of the squad when I first got in it – and I know this sounds like such a small thing – but the food has gone to the next level now that he’s part of it.
“The boys who are at the very top of the game will tell you that all these wee things make a big difference. It just shows you how big a part of the camp that he is when he’s in there joining in with the celebrations.
“It’s the same with the whole staff. It’s a collective and, as players we are just delighted that we were able to be the selected for the squad and to be part of it.”
O’Donnell is not sure whether the players have done enough to be considered heroes yet, but he is looking forward to savouring the experience of competing in a major finals. Scotland now face group games against Czech Republic, England and Croatia next summer.
“I certainly think we’ve done our bit to make a wee bit of history,” he said. “I think we’d all now just like the chance to stay in the squad for the tournament itself and play at Hampden and Wembley.”
The Motherwell defender hailed the mettle of those selected to take the penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra-time in Belgrade. “Look at Oli McBurnie for example,” he said. “I’m sure some people would have loved to say ‘he continues not to score’ but he stood up and he put it away. It was brilliant - there were stories all over the place in the camp.
“So just to be part of it is incredible. We have created a bit of history and that’s something no-one will ever be able to take away from us.”
O’Donnell sought to claim an assist for Leigh Griffiths’ penalty success in the shoot-out – having been replaced by the striker towards the end of extra-time.
“All five of the boys who took the penalties were brilliant,” he said. “I just made sure I got off the pitch before then because I was feeling a wee bit tight after 115 minutes. I made sure got hooked so I wasn’t in that position! But I think that means I can claim an assist for Griffiths’ penalty!”