BILLY Reid is eagerly anticipating the biggest match of his career, something which may surprise or even disappoint some of those who felt he was only taking a giant leap backwards when he gave up the Scottish football scene for an obscure post as assistant manager at the supposedly sleepy Swedish backwater of Ostersunds. Tonight sees Reid and his highly-rated English gaffer Graham Potter welcome PAOK Salonika to the 9,000-capacity Jamkraft Arena in this inland mid-sized Swedish town, knowing that a 2-0 win would be enough to see them gain game changing access to the Europa League group stages.

While the tie hangs in the balance, Reid’s input at this club already makes for one Scottish success story in a secondary continental club competition where some of our biggest guns have crashed and burned. Ostersunds, after all, were formed just 20 years ago, and were playing their football in Sweden’s fourth tier when Potter arrived at the club six years ago.

Three promotions in five seasons later, they are playing in the top flight for just the second season in their history. Qualifying for Europa League preliminary action by dint of last season’s Swedish Cup success, the first genuine piece of silverware in the club’s history, they shocked the football world when they knocked out Turkish giants Galatasaray 3-1 on aggregate in the first round. Perhaps even more notably, considering some of the results in this competition, they then successfully held their nerve against Luxembourgish opposition in the form of Fola Esch. While they trail 3-1 from a sweltering first leg in front of the voluble Thessalonikan supporters, they were level with just 12 minutes to play and succumbed to a late penalty.

“Listen this will be the biggest game in my football career,” said Reid, the 2008 PFA Scotland manager of the year, and a man who blooded the likes of James McCarthy and James McArthur in addition to making Hamilton Accies mainstays in the top flight. “If we can get into the Europa League with Ostersunds it would be some achievement.”

A number of Scottish influences have swept through this corner of Sweden in recent times, but the only member of their current pool who might rekindle a memory in a Scottish audience if Fouad Bachirou, the crafty wee midfielder who was briefly a cult hero at Morton. The club were already on their way up by the time Reid was contacted about the post in 2013 - the link was his former assistant, and now Belgium assistant manager, Graeme Jones - but their progress has only accelerated since then.

“When I left Hamilton I didn’t take a job for a wee bit, I wanted a bit of a break,” says Reid. “But when this opportunity came about in Sweden, I went for a week and I just had a feeling that this was right. I wanted a break, I wanted freshness. Graham had been here for coming on three years and had come up two leagues by the time I came in. They were into the Superettan, which is like the Championship, and in their first year there they finished tenth. But things have gone pretty fast. The club has only been around for 20 years and it has grown really quickly.

“In the Swedish Cup, you play group stages, quarter final, sem-final and then final and we had never previously been out of the group stages,” added Reid. “But last year we won every game in the group, and obviously every game in the knockout stages right through to the final to take the cup for the first time in the club’s history, which was obviously a big, big thing for us and put us on the European stage.

“Then obviously we draw Galatasaray, who were basically the worst team, certainly biggest team we could have got,” he added. “But we maybe got them at a good time, because they hadn’t started their season and we were into ours. Even still, it was some achievement for this football club to go and knock a team like that out in our first season in Europe. Before the final whistle went I said to the guys on our bench to just be careful how we celebrate here because of the environment there can be quite volatile. But when we went out on to the pitch over to our band of supporters - there weren’t too many of them I admit - the home fans actually applauded us off the pitch. That was something that we never expected. It was a testament to how we approach the games and the football we play at this club.”

Things are going fast, so fast in fact that Potter already seems fated become flavour of the month in a footballing landscape where Championship clubs seem more prepared than ever to look outside the usual contenders - think David Wagner at Huddersfield, Daniel Farke at Norwich and Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves. Even more remarkable is that part of Potter’s modus operandi includes encouraging his players to collaborate in writing a book, staging an art exhibition, acting, dance and even a version of Swan Lake. You would never get away with stuff like that at New Douglas Park.

“What is the magic?” said Reid. “We have a good manager, that certainly helps. Graham was voted manager of the year in Sweden last year, and he has built an infrastructure here which is proabably as good as anywhere in Sweden. The players enjoy coming to play here. As a manager he covers everything, his video presentation and analysis of games in my opinion is first class. We adapt to different situations, we are renowned in Sweden for rotating line-ups and formations. In general, this is a learning environment, not a blame environment. That is the biggest strength that we have got.”

Who knows what will happen down the line, but Reid does not appear to be pining for Scottish football. “Coming here has definitely been a good career move for me,” he said. “If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would never have thought that I would be at a football club in Sweden but you never know how football turns out.

“I don’t want to have a go at Scottish football because it served me well,” he said. “But it is a different culture, a different way of playing, in my opinion. In Scottish football, you win 1-0 and you are good. You lose 1-0 you are not. I think Celtic have a fantastic manager in Brendan Rodgers who, in my opinion, really knows what he is doing. There are others too. But in general I think we are so far behind in Scotland it is incredible. it is like a different game out there. I don’t really know where our game is going.

“In football you never know what is going to happen. I signed here for three years and I did my three years, then Graham and myself both signed for another three years. I am six months into that right now. Listen, we are ambitious but the job here is incomplete. Listen this will be the biggest game in my football career, if we can get into the Europa League with Ostersunds it would be some achievement. That is what the focus is at the moment, but like everyone else you are always ambitious to get to the highest level you can and I can assure everyone that with Graham this hasn’t happened by accident at this football club. It has been a remarkable journey.”