IT was Andy Robertson’s special day. The only problem was that John Souttar happened to have a prior engagement as a guest at Dundee goalkeeper Jack Hamilton’s wedding at the time. With his former team-mate at Hearts having made no provision for a big screen, Souttar did what Scottish menfolk have done since time immemorial. He made his excuses and switched off from the festivities for a while, watching huddled round a smart phone as his pal become the first Scottish winner of the Champions League for 22 years.

Having lost in the continent’s big game 12 months ago, been pipped for the FA Premier League title last season and lost a Scottish Cup final alongside Souttar to St Johnstone, you could say that it also put an end to the notion that Robertson was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Given a couple of days’ grace after his red letter day, the Scotland captain is expected at Oriam today to provide further inspiration.

“Jack didn’t have a screen up at his wedding so a few of us were crowding around,” said Souttar, who spent the 2013-14 season with Robertson at Dundee United, establishing a friendship with lasts to this day. “I had to watch it on a wee phone – and it was still incredible!


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“‘I’ve just sent him congratulations but I’m sure he’s got about a million messages,” added the 22-year-old. “It’s an incredible achievement, obviously, to win the Champions League, considering where he’s come from. We’re running out of words to describe it - it’s just sort of to be expected from Andy now, isn’t it? He was in the Champions League final last year, so it hardly comes out of the blue. He’s worked so hard, right back to his days at United – and he’s kept doing that.”

You can pick various points when you examine where exactly the Robertson narrative really got going, but as much credit as Queen’s Park deserve for picking him up after his release from Celtic, the year he spent under Jackie McNamara was properly transformative. This was a young, joyful side also featuring Scotland squad members like Souttar, Stuart Armstrong and Johnny Russell, not to mention other talents like Ryan Gauld. Souttar was reminded of a picture doing the rounds on Twitter the other day which showed Robertson, Gauld, Souttar and Jon Paul McGovern challenging a group of students from their digs at St Andrew’s Uni to a game of four-a-side after training. Robertson in particular is shown grinning, with a pair of goalie gloves on.

“I think that sums up his attitude,” recalls Souttar. “We were really young at the time and we just used to play football all the time. We used to go down the local park and play with the boys from our digs on a day off, play 4 v 4 and just enjoy it. That’s just what he’s like, he loves the game, is so down to earth, works hard and takes everything in his stride. We all used to take turns in goals.”


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Yet here he is, holding the most precious piece of silverware in the sport aloft on Saturday night. “You can’t help but think back to where he was,” said Souttar. “But look at the season he’s had. He was in the PFA team of the year, so it wasn’t a shock. He’s still the same guy he was, exactly the same. That’s probably why he’s done so well.”

Not that Robertson’s level back in those days was a million miles away from his team-mates. Injury has played its part in slowing Souttar’s progress, but an excellent display in the Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic caught the eye of the watching Clarke and served to illustrate that it isn’t too outlandish to think that this 22-year-old product of Aberdeen may soon operate on a bigger stage.

“Everyone takes their own path in football,” says Souttar. “He obviously started out on a very hard path and worked hard, kept his head down, didn’t complain, stayed positive. He’s obviously had a brilliant family behind him, too, and now he’s won the biggest prize in club football.”

For a Dundee United team to provide at least five Scotland starters five years down the line says something. “I think we just got the freedom to play, even if we made mistakes,” said Souttar. “We were so young and, although a lot of us went on to do well, it was just like playing with your mates. A lot of young players don’t get that chance. But we stayed in the team the whole season, got game after game. Andy played without fear the whole time and still does the exact same now.”

Souttar used the word ‘tough’ to describe his first training session under new boss Steve Clarke. While the 55-year-old can be expected to drill the back four rigorously, there will also surely be a place for defenders who can distribute the ball as well as Souttar can. The 22-year-old, who says he knows “nothing” about reported interest from Rangers – club manager Craig Levein called it “the usual crap” – has had an eventful time with Scotland recently which included a sending-off in Israel but under Clarke Scotland will hope to be more miserly at the back. “Killie were well-drilled and hard to break down as we found at Hearts,” said Souttar. “It will be good for me to learn from him and how he wants to play.”