I know Hampden comes in for a bit of stick at times but it’s still the home of Scottish football and the place every young kid dreams of playing at when they grow up. 

Having it empty for the Euros would have taken a bit of a sheen off the men’s team qualifying for the first time in 23 years so it’s great to see there will now be 12,000 fans inside the stadium to cheer on Steve Clarke and his players.

In an ideal world, of course, it would have been completely jam-packed for our two group games against the Czech Republic and Croatia.

I’ve been at Hampden on quite a few occasions when it’s full and the crowd are up for it and the atmosphere is something else.

But given the circumstances and the fact that we’re still coming out of a global pandemic then you can understand the need for caution. And it’s definitely much better than having no fans at all.

I don’t envy the organisers’ job in trying to decide which lucky fans get those tickets as there will be a huge clamour to be there. You could have sold it out 10 times over.

And I don’t expect there will be too many following the guidelines too closely and not shouting or singing if Scotland were to score a goal or win the matches!

Again, you understand the logic behind it but football is a passionate game and these fans have waited a long time to see the men’s team at a major finals once again. I don’t think too many will be sitting on their hands.

As a manager you always tried to block out the noise of the crowd as you’re trying to stay so focused on what was going on in front of you.

But as a player I was definitely aware of the atmosphere during a game. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to attend a few matches this season on media duty and it is a really strange experience with no supporters there.

You have the directors from both clubs, the substitutes and the media all spread throughout a stand and that’s it.

And you can hear every shout the managers make and the conversations between the players and the officials and it feels quite surreal.

The Scotland players are used to playing behind closed doors now and I’m sure they would have just got on with it if that had been decided for the Euros, too.

But having fans there will definitely make it more special and the players will absolutely thrive off that atmosphere, especially with the vast majority of the crowd there to support Scotland.

And even for those who aren’t lucky enough to be inside the national stadium, the fact that lockdown restrictions are easing should help get the excitement building in the weeks ahead.

People who’ve not been able to see friends or extended family for months will hopefully be able to meet up to watch the games together and that should help send a buzz around the country the closer we get to our first match.

I’ll never forget the time I got to manage Scotland at Hampden and it is a memory that I suspect will stay with me forever.

Growing up as a football fan I could never have imagined one day managing Scotland and taking them to a World Cup.

And then to get the chance to take charge of the team in front of a big crowd at Hampden was just another high along the way.

We had arranged to face Jamaica at the national stadium for our final warm-up match before heading to France.

My remit with the Scottish FA was two-fold; firstly to manage the team but also to help grow awareness of the women’s game.

One of the aims for that Jamaica friendly, then, was to see if we could get a record crowd in for a Scottish women’s game.

We managed to get more than 18,500 inside Hampden on a gloriously sunny day and that smashed the previous record of around 5000 which had been set the year before.

And it wasn’t too long before that, that the team was only getting 800 to 1000 for a match.

I absolutely loved that experience and I know the players did as well. And the fact that we won an entertaining game 3-2 hopefully sent the crowd home happy too!

It was a vindication that we were on the right track with the women’s game and it hopefully gave one or two people – men and boys as well as women and girls – an insight into what it was all about.

Hopefully those who came out that day to support us are still following the women’s game now.

That was a big moment for me and my team just as the opener against the Czechs will be for Steve and his players on June 14.

A lot of people criticise Hampden but for anyone growing up a football fan in Scotland that would have been the dream to play there or walk out as manager as I did.

For Steve and his players to do that at a major finals in a few months will be something most of them will have dreamt of too. And having fans there now will make it even better.