Liam Kelly reflected on the “best moment” of his life after eventually making his Scotland debut in the 4-1 defeat by France in Lille on Tuesday night.
The 27-year-old Motherwell goalkeeper was first called up to the senior squad four years ago and had to patiently await his chance, which came when Steve Clarke rested number one Angus Gunn and started with Kelly before bringing on Hearts keeper and fellow debutant Zander Clark at the interval.
It was a sore night for the Scots however, despite taking an early lead through Billy Gilmour’s first goal in senior football.
France defender Benjamin Pavard scored twice with headers as a star-studded home side fought back.
Skipper Kylian Mbappe added a third from the spot before the break and substitute Kingsley Coman hammered a fourth past Clark in the 70th minute to seal a convincing friendly win for the superior hosts.
“The best moment of your life, isn’t it?” said Kelly when asked about his first appearance for his country.
“I played for every age group with Scotland up until now and I have been in a lot of squads along with big Zander so I was just delighted to get that moment eventually.
“I’m so grateful to the manager to get that chance and I am delighted for big Zander as well because we have been in this together from the start.
“During the game you can’t think about anything else or else you get punished, so maybe now and over the next few days it will start to sink in a wee bit but yes, the best moment of your life playing for your country.
“Me and Zander have been in the squad a long time, you take any chance you can get.
“As I said I am really grateful to the manager to give me that chance.
“He didn’t have to do it, he could have played big Angus again so I am over the moon and thankful he gave me that opportunity.
“I think I done OK in the game so it all went to plan, apart from the scoreline.”
Clark, 31, was similarly delighted to make his debut as replacement for long-time buddy Kelly.
He said: “As a kid you always dream of that moment and it was a great feeling and a special occasion as well.
“I am buzzing for Liam as well, I have known him since we were kids and a lot of hard work has gone into it.
“For us to get the first on the same night is a special moment.
“It was tough, they had stars all over the place.
“But we had good spells and a great finish by Billy and it was unfortunate to come away with such a heavy defeat but pleased with the effort we put in.”