Celtic striker Jack Aitchison paid an emotional tribute to his late father as he scored a double for Scotland Under-19s on Saturday to beat the Netherlands – but insists his dad would still have moaned at him after the game.
Scotland’s youngsters have put themselves in a great position after two games in their extremely tough Euro Elite Round group in Germany and know if they can beat Norway tomorrow in Lippstadt and the hosts fail to beat the Dutch, they will qualify for the finals in Finland this summer for the first time in 12 years.
Donald Park’s side deservedly beat the Dutch in Arnsberg with a terrific performance that was a real boost for Scottish football after Alex McLeish’s squad lost to Costa Rica, the Under-21s needed an injury-time leveller to rescue a pitiful point in Andorra and the Under-17s lost both their opening games in their Elite Round group.
Scotland were terrific, with an inspirational performance from Everton powerhouse Fraser Hornby in particular. He is surely destined for big things.
But Aitchison, who turned 18 earlier this month, was the hero and celebrated both his goals with a poignant tribute to his father George, who passed away in January.
And he’s hoping his goalscoring form will be noticed by Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after he made history two years ago by becoming the youngest player and scorer at the Parkhead club.
He said: “In each game since my dad passed away, I look up after every goal I have scored. It’s my way of saying thanks to him.
“If he was watching me, he probably would have been shouting at me for my hold-up play! I thought I could have done better to be honest.
“But listen I’ve got to be delighted with the two goals.
“I am just happy we got the win because we deserved the win. All the boys put in a huge shift. I thought we were the better team from the first minute. We believed in ourselves and knew we would beat them.
“I’m scoring goals just now so I am asking the question and hopefully my manager sees I am grabbing some goals and maybe I can get a wee shot again.”
In a curious group, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway all have three points after two games with a win each. Norway were crushed 6-1 by the Dutch in their opening game but bounced back superbly to destroy hosts Germany 5-2.
But Aitchison is convinced Scotland have enough about them to beat Norway tomorrow and give themselves a chance of topping the group and reaching the finals for the first time since the class of 2006 went all the way to the final in Poland before losing to Spain.
He said: “We watched Holland’s first game when they beat Norway 6-1 and, despite that, still thought they could be beaten because Norway gave some cheap goals away.
“We will take a huge amount of confidence after beating a very good Holland side 2-0. We have always believed we are good enough to qualify and I think we can beat Norway and then see what happens in the other game.”
And Aitchison is relishing teaming up again with Hornby against the Norwegians.
He said: “Fraser is a different type of striker to what I am used to playing with. He’s good in the air and hopefully we have managed to get a good partnership together and have a bit of chemistry as a pairing.”