SCORING a goal against England may be every Scottish schoolboy’s dream, but Leigh Griffiths, who memorably did so twice on this very day three years ago, still has unfulfilled ambitions.

The Celtic player, whose late free-kicks at Hampden looked to have secured a famous victory for his country against their ancient rivals in a Russia 2018 qualifier, is rightly proud of his spectacular long-range strikes.

But he would like to be celebrated by the Tartan Army for more than just that brace when he has retired from the game and is determined to force his way back in to the national side and add to his international tally when football restarts.

It will take something pretty special, even though an agonising injury-time Harry Kane equaliser denied Griffiths and his team mates outright victory, to surpass his England efforts going forward.

The 29-year-old, who had put a troubled year firmly behind him before the Covid-19 outbreak by hitting the target eight times in 13 appearances in 2020, believes he knows how he can.

“If I could score a goal that takes us to a Euros it would eclipse what happened against England,” he said.

“I’m not suggesting that people would forget about the goals against England because that was a massive game for us and for the supporters, but I think I’d be remembered more for that than just as being the guy who scored two free-kicks in that one game.”

Scotland were set to take on Israel at Hampden in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final before the coronavirus pandemic led to football being suspended back in March.

Griffiths was, having rediscovered his best form at club level, a certainty to in Steve Clarke’s squad and a very strong contender to feature in the starting line-up.

The 19-times capped forward, who last donned the dark blue jersey back in September of 2018 when he came on in a Nations League win over Albion as a second-half substitute, was bitterly disappointed when he was denied the chance to make his eagerly-awaited comeback.

However, he is hopeful the delay will increase the national team’s chances of ending a wait to reach the finals of a major tournament that stretches back to France ’98.

“It’s weird to think that Euros were due to be starting in the next days,” said Griffiths. “Given everything that has been happening around the world, it’s strange to think that’s how time has moved on.

“But it’s one of those things and, hopefully, once the qualifiers are started again and everyone is back up to speed, we can have a good crack at it.

“I think the attacking options the gaffer is going to have will be frightening, but there are two major pluses in the fact that we will have John McGinn and KT (Kieran Tierney) back when the games come around.

“It didn’t look as if those boys might have been able to play if the games had gone ahead when they were scheduled back in March, so that’s going to be a bonus for the squad to have them back. That’s a couple of big assets for us.”

He added: “I think we have a real chance of getting through the play-offs. At the end of the day, it’s just two games and, if we play well, we have a chance to do something really special. You just never know what can happen over the space of just two games.

“We can win the first game as we have proved that we can beat Israel at Hampden because we did in the Nations League games to get to this point. It’ll be tough, of course, and anything could happen on the night, but if we could get through that, it’s one game to the Euros.”

Griffiths is very much looking forward as he prepares to return to training after a three month lay-off – but the memory of the England game still lingers and smarts.

“That whole day would have been a lot more special to me on the day of my wee man’s birthday had we gone on and won the game,” he said.

“It was a horrible situation of mixed feelings afterwards. It was good that we got a point from the game because it was a good one to get and we were behind in the game at one stage.

“But for one moment late in the game, we would have won. It was just one of those things, but I don’t want to be that guy who is just remembered for the one game when it comes to Scotland.

“I scored goals after that against Malta at home and against Slovenia away from home. That was another where we almost qualified. We would have got through to the play-offs had we won that game.”

Leigh Griffiths is fully fit and feeling good again after a difficult 12 months and Neil Lennon believes he is going to be an important player for Celtic as they bid to make history and complete 10-In-A-Row during the 2020/21 campaign.

It would be foolish to write off his chances of becoming the first choice striker for Scotland once again and providing the cutting edge in attack that enables them reach the rearranged Euro 2020 finals next summer.