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The main debut of the Euro 2024 team. Scotland beats everyone, even the world champions

Date: June 18, 2024 Time: 12:11:05

The Scottish team has never been classified as an elite team, as throughout its history it has been unsuccessful even at the European level: before Euro 2020, the Scots were not selected for international tournaments for more than 20 years, not they have participated in the world championships since 1998. But now everything has changed: the team won three of the three qualifying matches for Euro 2024 and is top of their group. The Scots beat Cyprus (3-0), Spain (2-0) and Norway (2-1) and are now full of confidence and eager to continue the series against Georgia on June 20.

The creator of this hit is Steve Clark. He has rebuilt the team since he took over as head coach in May 2019. The coach took her to a whole different level: physical, tactical and mental. He dreams of qualifying for Euro 2024, and then for the 2026 World Cup, because there hasn’t been a single major tournament in his career as a Scotland player. If Clarke is successful, he will become the first Scottish national team manager to secure three such competitions for the national team.

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The first reason for Scotland’s success is the education of the young.

Of those who played for Cyprus four years ago, only six players remain in the current squad, and Callum McGregor is the only Scottish and local Premier League player to have remained in the squad since then. When Clark first arrived, he started with 11 Scottish Championship players. Now, besides McGregor, there is not a single one – most football players play for clubs in the Premier League and the Championship.

“Steve showed me the lineup he picked four years ago and the lineup we have now. With all due respect to those guys, it’s day and night,” Clark’s assistant John Carver said. -This shows the progress of the players in four years, but they will only be judged by what will happen in qualifying for Euro 2024. Steve trusts his players and I think they know that.”

Clark was much luckier than his predecessors, because Steve produced a talented generation. In 2010, former Scottish First Minister Henry MacLeish launched an independent review of Scottish football amid the national team’s consistent failures. The situation was really deplorable: there was no system. The fields where the children could practice could be counted on the fingers. Within the country, two hegemonic clubs and the rest, whose budget, even in total, was barely up to the financial capabilities of Celtic or Rangers. Scotland needed a change.

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“It’s the government’s responsibility, not football’s,” former Scotland manager Craig Brown said. – 20 years ago I went to Norway on a reconnaissance visit. At the time, they had 12 full-size indoor fields and each town had a smaller, state-funded field. There are now four courses in Scotland, and this is in our terrible climate. If you were a child, would you go play in this weather? The government foolishly thinks that football is wealth. The Scandinavian countries teach us a lesson. I understand that art spends three times more money than sport, so they don’t prioritize sport.”

“I don’t think kids get enough of football,” said former Celtic captain Neil Lennon, who oversaw the club’s academy. “I saw how the boys of my time came to the academy, they trained two or three times a week. The time they spent with the ball depended only on their individual approach.

Training at one of Scotland’s football academies

Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

MacLeish drew conclusions and compiled a list of recommendations, which were set out in the new strategy for efficiency for the Scottish Federation. The initiative was meant to turn football around and take it to the next level. A key component was the establishment of schools (SFA Performance School) in seven regions of the country: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Falkirk.

The concept is this: the most talented 11-year-olds in the region are selected for schools, and they study and play soccer. The main thing is at least 10,000 hours of practice and constant work with the ball. On average, boys and girls exercise between 75 and 90 minutes each school day, which adds up to an additional 800 hours of training for children ages 12 to 16. The key direction of the Performance School process is a detailed study of the details of the development of each individual player. In addition, along with technical training, much attention is paid to the social and psychological aspects of the development of young footballers.

The program is based on the concept of “the best players, the best people”, whereby a significant focus is placed on the development of mental abilities, as well as qualities such as discipline, dedication and resilience. They engage holistically with the children, providing them with various options for off-field activities, right down to filming videos and ballet. “Planned development” replaced “random development”, which made it possible to build a clear and unified system.

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MacLeish said that if Scotland were to develop footballers of the highest quality, they should be treated as a “gold mine” from the start. To do this, you need to get rid of the tall poppy syndrome inherent in Scottish culture (this is a socio-cultural phenomenon in which bright and talented people are literally “extinguished” so that they catch up with the rest and do not stand out). The new schools set themselves the goal of instilling fresh ideas in the minds of the population, that the pursuit of excellence is never shameful and that talents should be valued and protected.

Mark Votte, who launched the program in 2011, said Scotland should have seen the first fruits of the labor after 2020. He stressed that youth development is a long-term but important process. “It takes planning, patience and perseverance to finally see progress,” he insisted.

scotland vs norway

Photo: UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

And Votte was right: over time, the strategy really paid off: young Scottish talent started leaving for the stronger leagues. In recent years, Aston Villa have played host to three young players from the Performance School: Ewan Simpson, Rory Wilson and Kerr Smith from Hearts, Rangers and Dundee United respectively. And Newcastle United have signed Scottish under-17 captain Charlie MacArthur from Kilmarnock. Scott Banks, Stuart McKinstry and Mark Leonard, who also went through the training system, now play for Crystal Palace, Leeds and Brighton. Also, Scottish players were noticed in Serie A and the Bundesliga.

Billy Gilmour (ex-Chelsea, now Brighton) and Nathan Patterson (Everton) became the first graduates of the program to break into the first team. But there are many more in younger teams: at last year’s Euro U17, 52% of the Scotland squad went through the Performance School. In U18, these are around 35%, in U16 and U19, around 30%. And this is the best indicator that the system really works.

More importantly, all of the first team players except Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes were born, raised and educated in Scotland.

While Scotland wins everything

Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The second reason is Clark’s philosophy. He has absolute faith in the players.

The coach has assembled a team willing to sweat for the good of the country, although he did not succeed immediately. When Clark first took office, he lost twice to Belgium (0:3, 0:4) and Russia (1:2, 0:4). He later said that he set himself the goal of creating a team that was experienced enough to withstand the strongest opponents. Today Scotland managed to beat Spain and Norway, but Clark is in no hurry to stop: “We remember that we are only getting better, but we also remember that we are not a finished product. We are not going to get carried away, we will remain calm and focused. The ultimate goal is Germany 2024.”

What Clark has shown throughout his career as a player and manager is adaptability and openness to change. Over the course of two years, Clark changed and refined his team to keep his tactical philosophy in sync with the players’ capabilities. And he found a system that matches the talents that he has. He perhaps produced the strongest Scottish generation since the 1990s. When the system started working, a team emerged that had poise and confidence.

Steve Clark

Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Clark gradually integrated the youngsters into the team and also instilled a new mentality in the team. His base is simple: he believes in the players, in their virtues and abilities. And they believe in him. In the locker room there was a successful symbiosis: faith in everyone, team spirit, confidence and determination. The coach developed psychologically strong leaders and players who are not only excited about victories, but are sure that they can achieve them.

“It developed over time,” Clarke said after the win over Spain. – Obviously, when you win, the boys like to get together. The atmosphere in the national team this week really scared me a bit. They were so happy and relaxed that I thought, “Come on guys, we’ve got a couple of big games ahead of us.” But still, he let them have fun. The boys believe in themselves and are ready to move on.”

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At the same time, Steve is trying to cool the players in his hot and joyful emotions – Clark forbade talking about qualifying for Euro 2024 as a fait accompli, convincing the players that the hardest thing is yet to come.

But if Scotland continues with this attitude, Clarke’s dreams of a second tournament will definitely come true. Furthermore, after Euro 2020, he promised the country that the next entry into the international arena would not have to wait another 20 years or more, and he clearly plans to keep this promise.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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