Stuart Hogg on his friendship with John McGinn and lifting the national mood after a ‘shoddy year’

Stuart Hogg is a keen Hibs fans and struck up a friendship with John McGinn when the midfielder was strutting his stuff at Easter Road.

John McGinn celebrates Scotland's win over Serbia in the Euro 2020 play-off final in Belgrade. Picture: Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

The Scotland rugby captain watched in admiration as McGinn helped the national football side qualify for the Euros on Thursday with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Serbia.

After leading his team to victory over Italy on Saturday, Hogg spoke of the inspiration he took from the result in Belgrade and how sport can be a force for good in this most difficult of years.

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Victories for our men’s football and rugby sides aren’t going to make us forget about the impact of Covid but they do provide, at the very least, a welcome distraction.

Scotland captain Stuart Hogg grounds the ball over his own line during the Autumn Nations Cup win over Italy in Florence.

“We want to be in a position to inspire a nation and just kick-on after what the footballers have done,” said Hogg after the 28-17 win in Florence.

“I spoke to John McGinn in the morning before the game and spoke to him again after the game. He’s absolutely buzzing for the rugby boys as much as we were for the footballers.

“It’s been a great week for Scottish football, Scottish rugby, and for Scotland as a country.

“It’s been a pretty shoddy year for everybody. So, if we can put a smile on people’s faces, then that’s exactly what we’re after.”

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The result in Italy made it five wins in a row for Hogg’s side, one shy of equalling the Scottish record. Our footballers, meanwhile, are on a nine-game unbeaten run and have reached the finals of a major tournament for the first time in 22 years.

These are heady times to be a Scottish sports fan – it’s just a shame none of us can get to the games. Hogg appreciates the frustrations and seems genuinely aware of his role in lifting the collective mood of the nation.

McGinn, who was outstanding in Belgrade, is similarly conscious of his responsibilities and it’s no surprise the pair have bonded.

“Being a Hibs fan, I watched him for a long time,” said Hogg of his friendship with the midfielder who is now excelling with Aston Villa in the English Premier League. “I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to meet him in the changing rooms after one of the games.

"I’ve loved everything he has done. He was one of Hibs’ best players and he’s now playing for an unbelievable team like Aston Villa. He’s a great bloke and I’m proud to call him a friend.

“He came across to Dublin [for Scotland’s Six Nations game]. I spoke to him in the hotel before it. He messaged me looking for tickets... Of course he did!

“He’s got more money than the Beatles, but he still needs his free tickets! No, listen, it was great to have his support. He’s a big rugby fan and I get messages from him every time we play.”

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