Scotland: How a team of heroes celebrated reaching Euro 2020


Dates: Friday 11 June-Sunday 11 July. Host cities: London, Rome, Munich, Baku, St Petersburg, Budapest, Seville, Bucharest, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Copenhagen. Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Scotland, iPlayer and BBC Sport website. Click here for more details.

Kieran Tierney on the decks. Conga lines in banquet halls. Birthday cakes with giant sparklers and offering boxer Tony Bellew a square go.

Given the 23-year wait since Scotland’s men were last at a major tournament, lifting that national cloud of prolonged glorious failure was always going to be met with absolute chaos.

And, with Serbia despatched on penalties in November, it was thus. From a mass pile-on in the bowels of the Rajko Mitic Stadium to dancing on chairs in lavish hotels and beyond, here is how the Scotland national team celebrated becoming heroes.

Eerie silence to bouncing beats

To appreciate the bedlam, you have to acknowledge the calm that fell on the Scotland camp before their Serbian storm.

On the way to the match, the card schools had stopped. Chat about Call of Duty battles had hushed and there was no banter coming from the usual characters in the squad.

“It was so quiet on the bus,” centre-half Declan Gallagher recalls. “It’s the quietest bus journey to a game I’ve probably ever been on. It’s probably because of the magnitude of the game.

“You go from that silence to being in the dressing room and the tunes go on and everybody starts doing their own thing.”

Stadium shenanigans

Right, let’s jump to the good bit. Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty is saved by David Marshall and the ball had not stopped rolling when bedlam broke out.

Marshall’s instinctive stop was enough to trigger a stampede towards him while he glared pleadingly at referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz to make sure a kick in the unmentionables wasn’t about to be delivered.

He was soon enveloped by a sea of dark blue, limbs everywhere. Ryan Christie was reduced to a blubbing mess after one pitch-side interview as the team completed a lap of honour in front of an empty stadium.

“I hadn’t even played a game at that point, I was just back in the squad,” Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon says. “I was absolutely delighted to be there and be part of it and see the sheer joy on everybody’s faces. Not just the players, the staff, people behind the scenes that had been there for so many years.

“Just to be there that night when qualification was sealed, there was hardly anybody there in the stands. To be one of the few Scotsmen to actually be there when it happened was very special.”

It was then time to retreat into the dressing room for a few verses of Baccara’s Yes Sir, I Can Boogie. It’s really all defender Andrew Considine’s fault. Although, spare a thought for Aston Villa’s John McGinn who, erm, was indisposed during the sing song..

DJ KT on the decks

The triumphant Scots bounced on to the team coach and made the 10-minute journey over the Sava River to Belgrade’s Hyatt Hotel. This is where a few began to lose their shape.

Normally, the mantra of such gatherings is ‘what goes on on tour, stays on tour’, but through the eyes of the Scottish FA’s media team, fans back home were allowed a glimpse into the revelry contained within the hotel’s banquet hall.

Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney was the team DJ “for around six hours” according to one source, so it’s probably him we have to thank for the “David Marshall conga” that erupted to the tune of Saturday Night by Whigfield.

An over-exuberant Gallagher was clearly feeling the heat at this point, with the Aberdeen-bound Motherwell defender parading about with his top somewhere above his head. Fair enough.

“I can remember it – well, to a certain extent,” he says.

“There was a conga, beer being poured over people’s heids. There were folk wearing next to nothing, including myself in the conga line. [Oli] McBurnie had his top off.

“I remember getting to my bed at around 7am and my door being chapped by Ryan Jack at 11am to jump in the bed with me. I’ve had worse nights.”

Renditions of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie were not far away again in homage to veteran Considine as the tunes blared out until the wee hours.

Goalscorer Christie led a chorus of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline from atop a dining room chair, although we would probably advise the Celtic midfielder to stick to his day job.

It was a day of celebration for defender Scott McKenna for more than one reason, given it was also his 24th birthday. It was at this point a cake with a “giant” sparkler appeared to keep the party going.

Meanwhile, right-back Stephen O’Donnell didn’t hold back in his description of the event.

“Socially, it would be the best night of my life. Obviously my wedding was amazing but a different social kind of event,” he suggests while digging himself into a hole.

“Probably every song that Kieran Tierney put on seemed to be a banger and then whenever he’d maybe run out of ideas, he’d put on one that’d been on before.

“I got the nod from the gaffer saying no more and I went to bed sharp. I don’t normally drink, but I treated myself to a couple. I thought, if ever there was a time to try to enjoy the moment, it was certainly then – and I did. I think most of us did and it was just incredible.”

Hide and seek champion

There’s always someone who likes to try to take the shine off things and, while the likes of Oasis front man Liam Gallagher was high in praise of Christie, boxer Tony Bellew couldn’t resist a wee dig.

Claiming that England will “tear Scotland apart” when the pair meet at Wembley, Gallagher invited him to what is known in his part of the world as a “square go” .

It also appeared the centre-half has a bit of back up from a world champion…

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