STEVE Clarke yesterday revealed he had been urged to turn down the Scotland manager’s position by friends within the game and warned that taking the job could turn out to be a “career killer”.

However, Clarke, who has transformed the fortunes of Kilmarnock in the past two seasons, has firmly embraced the huge challenge facing him with the national team after signing a three year contract.

And he made an immediate declaration of intent when he was officially unveiled at Hampden yesterday morning - by targeting automatic qualification for the Euro 2020 finals.

Scotland have a play-off spot to fall back on if they fail to finish in the top two in Group I and it looks like they may need to rely on that after their opening defeat to Kazakhstan away back in March.

However, the 55-year-old, whose first game will be the double header against Cyprus at home and Belgium away next month, wants his players to believe they can progress through their section.


READ MORE: Neil Cameron: Steve Clarke is going to make Scotland as exciting as we were in 1989

“I spoke to quite a lot of people in football who were telling me ‘don’t go, it can be a career killer’,” he said. “Listen, I am happy to take it on, I am happy to have a go. I promise I will give 100 per cent for the country. We will try and be better than we have been and we will try and qualify.

“It is really important that we qualify out the group and don’t rely on the play-off games as a fallback as those games will be really difficult and will have a lot of pressure. It is really important we get out the group.

“I want my first XI nailed down for Cyprus on June 8. We have to be ready. On the back of Cyprus we have to be ready to go to Belgium. Because of the points we dropped in Kazakhstan we have to gain those points against the top teams in the group, Belgium and Russia. To qualify we have to take points from them.”

Clarke made calling Andy Robertson, the Liverpool left back and Scotland captain who is in Spain preparing for the Champions League final on Saturday week, his first task as manager and was encouraged by the feedback he received.

“If everybody is as enthusiastic and determined as Andy is to qualify out of the group then we have got a chance,” he said. “It is really important.

“The play-off has been mentioned a lot. The play-off, the play-off, the play-off. The play-off is for the future. I want to be going to play a friendly next March in preparation for the tournament, not the play-off games. Let’s concentrate on the group.”


READ MORE: Shelley Kerr hopes to capitalise on feel-good factor from Steve Clarke's appointment

Clarke confirmed he had spoken to Kilmarnock, who he led into Europe for the first time in 18 years on Sunday, about his Rugby Park assistant Alex Dyer becoming his Scotland No.2.

“ He wants to stay and that’s fantastic for them, as he was an integral part of what we did there,” he said. “But I’d like Alex to come to the training camps as he is a great foil for me. We work closely together. I am the happy go lucky guy, and he is the serious one! It would be important to me and hopefully we can come to a solution.

“There will be another coach and I have one or two people in mind. There has been talk of a younger Scottish coach and some names have been mentioned. But certainly, for the first camp, I want to have two guys with me who understand how I get my message across.

"Hopefully I can secure a second one has worked with me in the recent past and we can get the results.”

Clarke confirmed he will be based down in England, where his wife, children and grandchildren have remained while he has been in Kilmarnock, but stressed he will give his all to the Scotland cause.

“I think the decision I was going to make at the end of this season was to go back to England and hopefully pick up a job there, either over the summer, or unfortunately into the next sacking season when there was going to be jobs available,” he said.

“I was sliding towards that, although having seen the reception I got after the game on Sunday, it would have made it a very difficult decision to actually leave Kilmarnock under those circumstances.


READ MORE: Clarke out to restore national pride and reach Euros

“To be honest, the Scotland thing came on to the scene and just complicated it even more. Suddenly I was weighing it up, I was thinking I could do this, I could do that, I could have more time at home.

“I think it’s really important for me to emphasise the home bit will take care of itself. I will be able to spend more time at my house, more time with my wife, my children and my grandchildren.

“I will be there for the little family dramas everybody gets, rather than on facetime or on a telephone call. I’ll be able to go and address it personally, which is a big thing for me.

“I’m fully committed to the job. I’m not going training camp, then home for a three week holiday, then looking for the next training camp.

“I’m going to watch all the games I can, scout opposition and look at opposition teams. I’m going to try and get around the country and meet the players, so that when they do come to us, it’s not the case they haven’t seen me for three months.

“They know my face, they know how I operate, and hopefully we can find a way to be successful. That’s the most important thing.”


READ MORE: Steve Clarke is the right man for the job... but success won't be straightforward

Clarke admitted that he will be under far more pressure than he was at Kilmarnock, but claimed he welcomed the opportunity to see how he can handle that.

"I look forward to that scrutiny and intensity, and see if I can live up to the challenge,” he said. "That's one of the reasons for taking the job.

"It might frazzle me, I don't know. Nobody knows what the future holds. But I'm certainly not scared of the intensity and the scrutiny. I'm not scared that people might say it's a career ender.

"I went to Kilmarnock and they were bottom of the league. If they'd stayed bottom, that would have been a career ender too.

"I was happy to take on that challenge and I am happy to take on this one too. Not only am I happy, I am honoured. And if it frazzles me, I will go down fighting - I promise you.”