SCOTT McKenna has tipped Scotland birthday boy Billy Gilmour to come of age at Euro 2024 and upstage German great Toni Kroos in the tournament opener in Munich on Friday night.

The centre-half firmly believes that Brighton midfielder Gilmour, who turned 23 yesterday, is poised to light up the finals and show the football world what an exceptional talent he is.

All eyes will be on Kroos, the Real Madrid great who came out of international retirement earlier this year so that he could be involved at the Euros in his homeland, when the Group A match gets underway in the Allianz Arena.

But McKenna knows the former Rangers and Chelsea kid, who was named Man of the Match in the Euro 2020 encounter with England at Wembley back in 2021, will relish squaring up to the six-time Champions League winner.

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“I think Billy will thrive in that sort of occasion,” he said. “His mindset will be that he will want to go out and show that he can be every bit as good on his day.

“Obviously, Toni Kroos has done it and proved it over a long, long time. But I think that is where Billy will aspire to get to. If he is playing on Friday he will want to take all the headlines.

(Image: PA) “He has worked under some fantastic managers at Chelsea and Brighton and has come a long way in the last two or three years. I think he will be looking to replicate what he did in that England game, but with even more experience.”

McKenna, who is hoping to get the nod from Scotland manager Steve Clarke to start in defence against Germany, knows that nobody in the national team will be overawed by facing players like Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Manuel Neuer, Kai Havertz and Antonio Rudiger.

The 35-times capped 27-year-old, who spent the second half of the 2023/24 season on loan at Copenhagen in Denmark from Nottingham Forest, will draw on the experience he has gained in the Premier League and Champions League if he gets on the park. 

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Asked if he thought anyone would get intimidated by playing Germany in Munich, he said: “It probably won’t happen. You can’t think that way. Robbo (Liverpool left back Andy Robertson) will lead the team out and he has played in the Champions League final, which is as big as they get at club level. Having him at the front will certainly reassure guys as well. 

 “I have played at the top level in England and Europe. It’s all about learning as much as you can from those games. You are exposed to the environments and players and it’s about trying to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from playing against them in the past. 

“But there are plenty more players than me with a lot more experience than me in the squad and they’ll be helping the lads as well. We are here to do a job and we know how much everyone at home wants us to do well and we are here to do that. 

“Obviously, as we build up towards the game I think nerves will kick in. That’s probably only natural and I think that can bring out the best in people.”

(Image: PA)