Whether he realises it or not, Derek Rae has long been an ambassadorial link between Scotland and Germany, providing his Scottish followers with insights into the German football culture he loves so deeply, and imprinting his passion for his homeland on his German friends.

So, when Scotland drew Germany in their group for the European Championships, it provoked mixed feelings for the popular broadcaster. On the one hand, he knew all too well that the ‘giddy optimism’, as he puts it, among his compatriots at the prospect of facing a supposedly struggling German side was likely ill-founded.

“They had gone through a little bit of a hard time, but did we really want to play the host nation, one of the national teams with the proudest traditions of winning, on their own patch in the opening game?” Rae opined.

As it turns out, perhaps not.

He also knew though that as a football country, Germany and the Tartan Army were a match made in heaven. Having given the Scotland support quite the build up, expectations were high among local friends and acquaintances about what they were about to experience, a high bar that the Tartan Army have cleared with room to spare.

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England had their wally with a brolly, Scotland had their heroic fella with an umbrella. The viral footage showing a kilted Scotland fan, soaked to the skin, sheltering an elderly lady as she returned home with her shopping has come to encapsulate the spirit by which the Scots and the Germans have embraced one another.

And now, Rae can count hundreds of thousands of ambassadors for his country in Germany alongside himself.

“It is everything I imagined it would be and more,” Rae said.

“When Scotland qualified, and even just before they qualified, I had been on social media a lot talking to Scottish fans who were looking for ideas, and it was very clear to me that Scotland were going to bring way more fans than anyone else.

“We all know the history, an entire generation has missed out on major international tournaments. Germany is the perfect country for one, we all know that, and I just thought it was going to be something that Germans had never experienced, and it was going to be something new for the Tartan Army as well.

“The whole thing has just been a delight. I honestly think that the Tartan Army, without exaggerating too much, have been the best ambassadors for our country that we have seen in a long time. They have done what diplomats or politicians could never do, because it is organic, they are down to earth, and they are just having the time of their lives.

“You can’t fake that. They have come here with the idea that they are going to make up for lost time, they are going to love every second of it. And that has shone through.

“Almost across the board, the Germans are saying that the best fans here are the Scots, they don’t want them to leave, and they are just ‘mega’, which is a word that is very much in use now in the German vocabulary. ‘The Scotland fans, they are simply mega!’ is what people are saying.

“I think there will probably be friendships that have been formed that will last for a very long time on the back of this, because the number of times I’ve seen German fans and Scottish fans sharing a drink together who didn’t know each other a few hours earlier, but they have now formed fast friendships.

“What I’ve been hearing from everybody is that they wish they had the Scots here more often, and that every group of fans were like the Scots.”

Sadly for Rae, his professional exigencies covering the championships for Fox Sports have meant that he has missed much of the party being enjoyed by his countrymen.

He has only arrived in Cologne as the last Scottish stragglers stagger out towards Stuttgart (try saying that after a few of the city’s trademark small glasses of Kolsch beer), taking up commentary duties for the match between Belgium and Romania this evening.

What he has found along with the few remaining Tartan Army members though are warm memories of those who have departed, with the city taking their Scottish visitors to their hearts, and vice-versa.

“It definitely feels a little bit lonelier than it did for the two or three days when Scotland were here!” he said.

“I think a lot of people in the city were sad to see them go. I’ve been saying for as long as I’ve been covering the Bundesliga that there is something about this city that speaks to Scots, and vice-versa. There is a sort of strange kinship, that is reflected in so many aspects of it. It’s a match made in heaven. People who are quite similar.

“What is great is that Scotland fans have discovered in the last few days that Germany is not a uniform country. Every region is different and has its own traditions.

“Cologne is maybe not as well known for its traditions in other countries, but I have always said it is an emotional city, a city for romantics in many respects, and it is a little bit alone in its traditions.

“A lot of it stems from the Karneval time, and this was a little bit like a Scottish Karneval arriving in Cologne at a time when it is a long way away from Karneval, and the main tourist traffic isn’t here. But my goodness, it was an eye-opener for people, in a good way.

"I spend a good chunk of my time in this city, and every Cologne friend I have has said ‘Your people are just amazing. Your people are just a breath of fresh air, and I wish we could keep them!’

“I think the Scotland fans saw that there is a culture here that they could really embrace. I think the people just felt the passion that is Cologne.

“It became a Scottish city for a few days, and I think the memories will last forever. Everyone who was here will remember that they were here in Cologne, and if it was the first time they have made that trip, I don’t think it will be the last.”

In fact, if all goes to plan, the next visit may be sooner rather than later.

If Scotland can defeat Hungary tomorrow and advance to the knockout stage, they look likely to be facing off against Spain in a match slated for the RheinEnergieStadion. A prospect Rae thinks would be welcomed enthusiastically by both the Tartan Army and Cologne's residents.

“That has been discussed as well,” he said.

“Friends of mine went out to the bagpipe march – or the Dudelsackmarsch, as they call it here – and took videos of it, and thought it was just the most astonishing thing they had ever seen from football fans.

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“They have been looking at the schedule and saying that if Scotland were to finish third then it’s possible, and maybe it is just meant to be that they come back to Cologne for that game.

“One of the events that sadly got cancelled was a big singalong that was supposed to happen the day before the game with well known Cologne musicians and Scottish musicians performing the Loch Lomond song, but also in Kolsch because as most people now know, it is the anthem of FC Koln.

“It was a huge event that was planned, but they had to cancel it because of the severe weather before the game, so it has been discussed that if Scotland were to come back for another game, that would be an option to revisit that idea.

“What was great though was that in lieu of an organised event such as that, I saw after the game outside the cathedral that Cologne anthem being played with Scottish fans singing Loch Lomond and local people singing it in Kolsch, and it was just a joy.

“It was really special, and something that only really football can serve up I think.”

Before either party can contemplate another party in Cologne, though, Scotland have some business to take care of on the pitch. And while it is nice to hear once more the plaudits that the Tartan Army are receiving on their travels, it would also be nice if our football team made a similarly lasting impact.

Rae has covered tomorrow’s opponents in this tournament, commentating on their match against Germany for Fox, and he has warned that a fraught evening may lie ahead. But then, would we expect anything else?

“They were actually quite difficult opponents for Germany,” he said.

“You look at the score and you might think that it was fairly routine for Germany, but they had their difficult patches in the game, and they were made to work by Hungary.

“They have a superstar in Dominik Szoboszlai, who most Scotland fans will know from the Premier League and who I saw a lot of at Leipzig. You always have to be careful of his long-range shots, from out of the blue a lot of the time, and his general counter-attacking play.

“They’ve got a strong spine, and a strong Bundesliga spine as well. They have Peter Gulacsi in goal and Willi Orban in front of him of Leipzig, and Roland Sallai of Freiburg, who is the sort of player I worry a little bit could cause problems for Scotland.

“He’s a natural runner, he likes to get into one-on-one situations, can beat you with pace, has guile, and can finish. They have Andras Schafer from Union Berlin too, so I know this team really well.

“Julian Nagelsmann said a couple of times that in all of Germany's assessments, they had Scotland and Hungary at around the same level. And I think that is fair.

“They probably have the advantage in terms of having someone like Szoboszlai in an attacking sense, but I think it’s an even contest.

“My worry is that Hungary are very well suited to defending and counter-attacking, and they will happily defend, defend and defend. That will probably mean that Scotland will be taking the game to them, and we all know that isn’t Scotland’s best attribute.

“I thought the Switzerland game suited Scotland a bit more, because Switzerland will come at you a bit more than Hungary are inclined to do. So, I would say it could be one of those quite frustrating exercises, and patience will be needed.

“I really can’t see Scotland wiping the floor with Hungary, I think it will be one of those very long feeling games, and I wouldn’t expect an awful lot of goals either.

“I think it will be really tight, and patience is definitely the watchword.”

No wonder the Tartan Army, for all their admirable qualities, take a drink.