WHEN he was a lanky big lad coming through at Partick Thistle, Jack Hendry probably never thought he would be where he is now. Certainly, his remuneration at Saudi Pro League outfit Al Ettifaq will likely be a little more favourable than the wage he was on at Firhill, for a start.

But to be a Scotland regular and an integral part of a defence that has now taken the country to two major championships? And to not only be sharing a pitch with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, but to get the goat of (arguably) the GOAT well and truly up by indulging in a bit of argy-bargy with the Portuguese superstar?

Actually, given the belief he has always had in his own ability, the 28-year-old might well have thought all that was possible. Allied to his talent, that confidence has carried him a long way in the game, and he is hoping it will help carry Scotland into the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time next summer.

READ MORE: What pot will Scotland be in for Euro 2024 group stage draw?

Hendry, like Scotland, respects his opponents. But there is no inferiority complex, and he will stand on ceremony for no one. As his recent spat with Ronaldo showed.

“When you go on the pitch, it is 11 v 11,” he said.

“Whoever you come up against you have to try and get the better of – it doesn’t matter who it is. “Obviously I have the greatest respect for Ronaldo who is one of the greatest players who has ever lived, if not the greatest.

“So, to share the pitch with him is very good, but when I get on there, I want to get the better of him. Those kinds of tussles are part and parcel of football.

“I think this is the case [for Scotland as well]. We will respect them [our opponents], but as soon as we step on that pitch we want to come out on top. Hopefully we can do that in Germany.”

It could be argued that Ronaldo’s star, just as with other previously world class players who now ply their trade in Saudi Arabia, has now dimmed somewhat at the age of 37. But Hendry thinks that coming up against such players, even if they may not be at their peak, can only help improve his own game.

“Obviously that was part and parcel of going to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“A couple of weeks ago I played against the top goalscorer in European qualification, who is Ronaldo, and then at the weekend I [was] playing against (Karim) Benzema.

“So, you can see there are top quality strikers in that league, and I am sure playing against them will stand me in good stead for the summer.”

So, what of Scotland’s chances next summer? Certainly, Hendry feels that Steve Clarke’s squad will go into the tournament in a much better position this time around than they did Euro 2020, with the two-decade plus absence from such a level perhaps catching the wide-eyed Scots a little cold.

Hendry was a part of that squad, and hopes to take the lessons learned during those championships and use them to further Scotland’s cause in Germany.

He said: “We will get together in March, and I think now when we go into that it will be full steam ahead for the Euros and learning off maybe the mistakes we made in the previous tournament, and trying to make sure we rectify them in Germany.

READ MORE: Scotland keeper Zander Clark only heeding 'opinions that matter'

“We will obviously have a discussion in the March camp to see what we need to do better. Having had that experience of playing in the Euros last time I am sure will stand us in good stead. All the experiences we have had - not just myself - playing in the European Championship, playing in top fixtures.

“We have come out of the group and made it back-to-back European Championships and now the Nations League A group so we are going in the right direction. Hopefully we carry that momentum into the Finals.

“We will take those experiences, also the bad experiences from playing in those fixtures, and put them all together as one and hopefully have a good impact in Germany.”