By Gavin McCafferty, PA
John McGinn saw footage of a bare-chested Scotland fan sliding 10 yards through a puddle in central London and knew he and his team-mates had to finally make a splash at Euro 2020.
The Scotland midfielder tried to take an afternoon nap ahead of Friday night’s clash with England but could not switch off.
Instead he soaked in the enormity of the occasion by watching clips of the Tartan Army making their presence felt in the English capital.
The lucky 2,700 Scotland fans who got Wembley tickets also made their voices heard pre-match and McGinn was determined to reward them for their support.
Scotland fans in Leicester square 🤦🏻♂️😂 pic.twitter.com/VpDJmTe6cU
— Alex (@mralexthfc) June 18, 2021
The well-deserved point after a tense goalless draw keeps Scotland alive in Group D and gives them the chance, almost certainly, to go through if they beat Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday.
And McGinn was delighted to lift the spirits of the nation after their first major tournament in 23 years started with a home defeat to the Czech Republic.
The Aston Villa midfielder said: “I normally like to get an afternoon kip when the game kicks off at eight o’clock. But the excitement of the occasion was hard to ignore.
“When you see people doing belly flops in Leicester Square you just want to get going and do the country proud.
“We were all hurting on Monday when we didn’t give the nation a lift.
“It’s not a win but it was certainly a performance to be proud of.
“There were only two and a half thousand fans but we certainly felt their support.”
McGinn added: “It was an amazing performance. We left everything on the pitch and were possibly a little bit hard done by to only come away with a point. But you have to be respectful that England are a great team.
“We definitely stifled them. We certainly made it difficult for them.
“It was a performance to be proud of and I’m sure the whole country will be saying the same thing.”
A performance to be proud of, thanks for all the support. See ye Tuesday 🏴 pic.twitter.com/1CPBmez8Uv
— John McGinn (@jmcginn7) June 18, 2021
Steve Clarke made four changes with Billy Gilmour excelling in his first international start.
Kieran Tierney returned from injury and was joined by Scott McTominay in a more fluid back three which allowed Scotland to enjoy their fair share of possession.
“I think there was a slight overreaction to Monday’s performance,” McGinn said. “We had Czech Republic penned in for long spells and we lost goals at difficult times. But I don’t think we played badly.
“Having Billy and KT in the team, who are two top-class players, maybe helped, I’m not sure, but it felt really comfortable.
“They had chances and hit the post but the bravery and determination is in the Scottish identity and we are proud to put in a performance after a disappointing game on Monday.
“We have a brilliant squad and the gaffer has to make hard decisions.
“Credit to the manager, he got it right, but I don’t think he got much wrong on Monday.”
McGinn lined up against Villa team-mates Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish and his club colleagues were surprised by the performance of their opponents.
“I caught up with Jack and Tyrone after the game,” the former St Mirren and Hibernian player said. “I get on with them really well.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) June 18, 2021
“It was strange playing against them. They are two top players and thankfully we managed to keep them a little bit quiet.
“They were saying they expected us to be a little bit more direct but we showed we can play a different style.
“With Callum and Billy controlling the ball, we got brilliant service into Che (Adams) and Lyndon (Dykes).
“The only disappointing thing is we had chances to go and win the game and didn’t take them.”