Scotland welcome latest hall of famer who spent years in wilderness and battled adversity

A week ago, Grant Hanley was taking his Scotland career "day by day" after a season ravaged by injury. Now the 32-year-old defender is on the plane to Euro 2024 and part of the Hall of Fame.

Hanley missed a large chunk of the 2023/24 campaign due to an Achilles problem and by his own admission was touch and go to make the provisional 28-man squad for the European Championships. A mainstay of head coach Steve Clarke's squads when available, the Norwich City centre-half played in both warm-up matches against Gibraltar and Finland on Friday. The 2-2 draw against the Finns on Friday was his 50th cap for Scotland, and he is now battling with Ryan Porteous and Jack Hendry to be part of the back three that lines up in the tournament opener against Germany next week.

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"It's a proud moment," Hanley said of winning his 50th cap. "I'm probably not clever enough to put it into words how I'm feeling. It's a big milestone and a big achievement for me. I'm proud of the hard work, sacrifices and dedication I've put in to be there. I'm grateful to a number of managers for the opportunities they've given me over the years. It's something that nobody will ever take away from me.

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"My family are always proud of every cap I get and every moment I get on the pitch playing for Scotland. I'll certainly have a few going out [to the Euros].  They run me everywhere throughout my career. Even now they barely miss a game for Norwich - even in the last year when I've not been playing. Fair play to them, they've supported me all the way. I wouldn't be here without them. And my partner Kathryn as well - I think she's had it tougher than most the last year going through a difficult rehab and looking after kids. It's not the easiest. I should really mention my family - my parents, my sister, my kids and my partner, the sacrifices they have made as well."

Hanley has battled through adversity to get to this point. There was a period between 2018 and 2021 when he was in the international wilderness. His recovery from Achilles surgery was not straightforward. "When you’re young and naive you don’t really look that far ahead," said Hanley. "You just keep going. As I’ve got older and had periods away from the squad and had injuries, that milestone feels unachievable at times. So to be standing here now having played my 50th game for Scotland, I’m over the moon.

"Certainly when I was away from the squad for three years at one point and the last year has been really tough. There were points in that when I thought I wouldn't be back in the squad. I’m really grateful to be given that opportunity again."


His rugged, no-nonsense approach to defending curries favour with Clarke. Playing twice in a week unscathed will undoubtedly give the boss a selection poser ahead of facing the Germans. "I feel good," added Hanley. "Obviously it’s been a long year, a tough rehab. Achilles rehabs are notorious for not being the most exciting things to do. There are obviously lots of things that can come up along the way. I know myself I’m at my best when I’m in a rhythm and I’ve been playing week in-week out.

"From my point of view I can take confidence I couldn’t have done anymore and there’s nothing I’d change along the way. I’ve done all the hard work and hopefully that pays."

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