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Scotland’s Ryan Christie is prepared to have the nation crying again at Euro 2020 – but only if it is more tears of joy.
The Celtic forward pulled the heartstrings of TV viewers during an emotional post-match interview following the dramatic penalty shootout win over Serbia last November.
“People coming and telling me they shed a tear with me was nice,” the 26-year-old tells BBC Scotland.
“At the time there were a few other people crying around me and I was trying my best to hold it in. I didn’t quite manage.”
And while the tears were only just being wiped away in the Christie household, the waterworks burst again after a video call.
“Me and John McGinn got taken straight for a drugs test,” Christie adds. “While we were downing water we were on FaceTime to every single family member.
“I was chatting to his family at one point and he was chatting to mine. They were all in tears as well. It was all a bit emotional.”
Mindset changes & containing excitement
Christie, who scored the opening goal in that play-off final in Belgrade, is eager to create more history with the national side.
After securing Scotland men’s first major tournament appearance in 23 years, Steve Clarke’s side have the chance to become the first squad to progress through the group stage at a finals.
With two of Scotland’s group games, against the Czech Republic and Croatia, taking place in front of 12,000 fans at Hampden – the largest crowd at any Scottish stadiums in well over year – Christie believes a limited but raucous Tartan Army can cheer the team on to greatness.
“The mindset we are trying to change is to see how far we can go,” he says. “We don’t just want to make up the numbers in this tournament – we want to prove we belong here.
“I’m trying not to get too excited and burn that nervous energy already. It’s almost the icing on the cake getting to play at Hampden. With the fans in as well that’ll be an extra bonus.
“I’m sure whoever is there will be making as much noise as they can and giving us their full backing. It’s all these one-percents that’ll push us even further to do well.”
‘I was a mad Scotland fan’
Christie admits he is “well too young to remember” Scotland’s last finals appearance. After all, he would have only been a three-year-old.
However, what the Inverness-born player can recall is the regular heartbreak he became accustomed to in supporting the national team in the two decades following the 1998 World Cup.
“I was a mad Scotland fan,” he says. “I loved watching them growing up. Every international, my family would have everyone over to watch the game.
“But, the same as most people during that 20-year period, I just found it frustrating. Getting so close but never managing to qualify.
“When we did qualify in November, it meant so much to all the boys because we’ve been growing up the same as all the supporters.”
‘Horrendous’ shootouts & squad unity
Despite Scotland winning two consecutive penalty shootouts to reach Euro 2020, it is something Christie would rather see less of.
Having been substituted in Belgrade by the time the spot-kicks started and ruled out of the semi-final win over Israel because of Covid regulations, the Celtic man was a frustrated spectator for both shootouts.
“It was horrendous watching it from the bench. You would rather you were on the pitch, you feel like you can still affect the game,” he explains.
“I missed out on the semi-final, that was devastating. Watching those penalties, sitting on the couch, was arguably even worse.”
However, those agonising moments of tension resulted in nationwide elation, strengthening the unity within Clarke’s tight-knit squad.
And Christie believes that spirit will be key heading into the Euros.
“Just being in that squad environment for so many days after [the win in Serbia], we’ve built it up ever since,” he says.
“We’ve taken it into this camp. When we go into these camps you’ve got so much of a buzz to see all the boys again.
“It’s a credit to the manager and the staff and everyone who has created this environment. It’ll only help us going into the tournament.”