SCOTLAND captain Andrew Robertson is getting used to mentally preparing himself on the eve of an historic fixture. Since joining Liverpool from Hull City four years ago, the left-back has featured in two Champions League finals (with varying results). He played a key role as Jurgen Klopp’s men finally delivered that sought-after Premier League title in 2020 and now today, at the age of 27, he will lead his nation out at the finals of a major tournament – becoming the first man in over two decades to do so.

Having previously dealt first-hand with living through the intense build-up to such an important occasion, Robertson is well-placed to dish out words of encouragement to those in the camp for whom the current situation is something of a novelty. As fans’ excitement reaches a fever pitch and the entire country buzzes in anticipation, the one-time Dundee United full-back insists that it is vital that he and his team-mates remain cool and collected.

“It’s very similar to the Champions League Finals in the sense of the excitement at what’s to come and what lies ahead,” Robertson reasoned. “That’s the best thing about it. This is why we play football.

“I’ve been lucky to experience it before and some of the other lads have as well, in terms of cup finals and huge games. It just adds that bit more with it being with your country.

“It’s important to stay calm, composed and ready – and then go all guns blazing into the game.

“I think you learn to appreciate it more, 100 percent. It comes with age and experience. You need to enjoy the good moments, because it’s not always like that.

“In my first Champions League Final I probably didn’t enjoy the build up as much as I should have done. Fortunately I was back the next season and I promised myself, no matter the outcome, I would enjoy the run up to it as much as I could, to go along with my family being excited and everything else.

“I certainly did that and the result mate it all the better. This time I’ve been pretty relaxed. I’ve enjoyed seeing my family, friends and the whole country getting excited.

“We landed in Scotland and we could already feel it around the hotel. It’s great to have the country’s backing and so many excited about watching Scotland in a major tournament. It’s up to us to do them proud.”

The players will have the chance to do precisely that once they cross the white lines at Hampden to face the Czechs this afternoon. Having faced Jaroslav Silhavy’s side twice recently in the Nations League – and coming out on top on both occasions, even if one was essentially against a B team following a Covid outbreak – Robertson insists that he and his team-mates will know what to expect at the national stadium.

With 16 of the 24 teams at the tournament making out of the group stage, the Scotland skipper knows that a victory today would leave Clarke’s men with one foot in the knockout rounds – adding that the thought of facing England this coming Friday has barely crossed his mind.

Robertson said: “The most important game is the one in front of you. That’s the easy and the best answer. Our full focus is on this game tomorrow – we’ve not even thought about the other two yet.

“So, we don’t know if it’s a must win. Yes, we want to win it. We want to get the tournament off to a good start. But we know how hard it’s going to be.

“We played against the Czech Republic in the Nations League and it was an incredibly tough game at Hampden. Luckily, we got the win but we had to work hard for it. We’ll need the same today.

“They’ve got a team full of quality with some really good players. We need to try and stop their threat. But we also need to try and impose ourselves. We’ll be doing our all to win the game.”

When Robertson leads the team out in Mount Florida today, he will be following in the footsteps of such colossuses of the Scottish game as Billy Bremner, Graeme Souness and Roy Aitken by adorning the captain’s armband at the finals of a major tournament.

Having been raised on tales of the glory of yesteryear, Robertson admits he is inspired by the feats of his predecessors – but he is determined to write a chapter or two of Scottish football history himself over the coming weeks.

“Those guys are legends of the Scottish game,” Robertson added. “Legends of football as a whole. Obviously it’s nice to follow them.

“I just feel lucky enough to wear the armband but it’s not just about me. It’s about this entire squad and I’m just thrilled we can become a group of players who have played for Scotland at a major tournament.

“I am the one who is fortunate to be walking out in front of them. This is what we dreamed about when we were wee boys playing in the park. That dream is about to come true.

“It’s up to us to create our own memories. A lot has changed in the world and in life since 98. It’s a long time and football has changed a lot as well. The lads are excited to be part of history and create some of our own.

“We’ve always said we’re not here to make up the numbers. We’re not just happy to be in the tournament, we want to do well in it.

“We have a tough group and it will be hard. But it has to be our aim to get our of the group, which no one has done before. If we can do that we are writing our own history.”