Barry Douglas openly admits he never had the wildest notion he would ever end up playing his football in Poland. The 26 year old Scot is now in his third season with Lech Poznan, having been an impressive and marauding full-back in the club’s much-lauded Polish title triumph last season.

Douglas is well settled in Poznan, a civilised Polish city, but with fanatical Lech fans. The former Queen’s Park and Dundee United player says he thought he’d seen it all in the make-up of Scottish football supporters until his career took him to eastern Europe in the summer of 2013.

Lech Poznan play in the 43,000 seater Miejski Stadium and for some matches, as evidenced by clips on Youtube, the place is rocking.

“They’re a different breed out here,” says Douglas. “The Lech fans are magnificent, they’re crazy, they’re fanatical. I’ve played in some matches, especially the bigger games, when you can feel the atmosphere lifting you off your feet. You need to experience it to believe it. A Lech versus Legia match is incredible, it’s right up there with Rangers versus Celtic, or better I would say.”

Douglas admits that his career took a sudden and surprising left-turn when, after three contented seasons with Dundee United, it became known to him in the summer of 2013 that Lech Poznan wanted to sign him. By his own admission he knew absolutely nothing about Polish football.

“The fact is, at first Lech were looking at Johnny Russell in that 2012-13 sea-son,” he says. “They came and looked at him a few times, but then I hit a run of form in the second half of that season and they offered me a contract.

“My agent said to me, ‘good out, have a look, just have an open mind about it.’ So I came out to Poland and was a bit blown away by it. The facilities were brilliant. I knew it was going to be a big challenge for me. People say the Scots go somewhere for six months and then get homesick, so I was determined to prove people wrong.

“I had a few hurdles to overcome, not least the language. I can speak the basics of Polish now. I understand virtually everything the coach says – sometimes replying is the tricky bit. I also tend to know the Polish words I’m not sup-posed to know.”

Back in his early months with his new team and a new coach, Mariusz Rumak, Douglas had to battle hard to keep his promise to himself to carve out a new chapter in his football career.

“It was a huge challenge for me settling here,” he says. “I got injured on my first day of training with Lech, when I tore a thigh muscle, which put me out for three months. Then I got an ankle injury playing against Legia which put me out for five months. So it was a big challenge for me mentally. It would have been easy to get homesick, to chuck in the towel.

“It was only really in my second season here that I began to feel fully fit. After the winter break last season I felt really fit, I felt I was motoring. And then we went and won the title, which made everything worthwhile.”

Last season was a stellar one for Douglas. Clear of injuries, he finally grew into a mainstay of a team which wrested the power of Polish football away from Legia Warsaw. The Lech fans really took to the young Scotsman in their midst, whose surges upfield from left-back made Douglas a favourite among the sup-port in their title-winning campaign.

But that was five months ago. Things have turned radically different for the club in recent times, with Sunday night’s 5-2 defeat to Cracovia casting Lech to the foot of Poland’s Ekstraklasa.

“The Lech fans are passionate, so it is very hostile at the moment,” he admits. “After winning the title last season we’re in a bit of a rut and now sitting at the foot of the table. It’s a bad situation. One or two players have left, and some have come in, but we need to turn this around quickly.”

In timely fashion Poland come to Glasgow this week to face Scotland in a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier on Thursday evening. Douglas has watched the revival of Polish football from inside the country and has no doubts about the toughness of the task facing Gordon Strachan and his players.

“Poland have some great players and they are very confident. Everybody knows about Robert Lewandowski, who is in exceptional form at the moment. I also rate Arkadiusz Milik, who is at Ajax, and the winger, Slawomir Preszko, who has just moved back to Poland from Italy.

“All the Polish players are technically very good. Whatever they have done in recent decades, they’ve got it right. A lot of the Poles are playing abroad among the main leagues of Europe, in Germany and Italy, and they are greatly respected.

“I think the Polish league, too, has more respect across Europe than the Scot-tish league. In terms of quality, I don’t think there is a million miles of a difference, but in Poland the football is much more tactically disciplined, with analy-sis and intense detail about the games we play. It is very different in this respect from what I was used to in Scotland.”

In terms of his own career Douglas gives a distinct impression of now being a Europhile. He loves his life in Poznan and says that remaining on the continent would be his ideal career-choice in future years.

“I like being out of my comfort zone,” he says. “If I could choose I would probably play out my career in Europe. It’s a different culture, a different type of football, but I enjoy it. You never say never about coming back to play in Scotland, but Europe appeals to me.

“I’ve got my fiancée here with me, and my family come out to see me regularly. I’ve got an i-pad to keep in touch with my friends and my grandparents. Everything is fine. I like the football. I’ve enjoyed the change of culture.”