While there are thousands of members of the tartan army who would love to swap places with those lucky enough to represent their country at the European Championships, the sacrifices these players make to pursue that dream often go unnoticed.
Take Declan Gallagher for example. The great defender isn’t complaining about his plight in any way, but between training camp and the tournament, he could be away from his newborn baby and the rest of his family for almost two months. Perhaps this should be kept in mind the next time a player’s commitment to the shirt is called into question.
As difficult as it may be for Gallagher to deal with, it is well worth it as he pursues his dream of wearing a Scottish shirt to a major tournament, ending what has been a dream period for the 30-year-old.
“A three month old baby, it’s always great to get away from them! Gallagher said. “No, it’s always difficult to be away from your family. But my wife (Nikki) makes the biggest sacrifice.
“She’s at home with two children, she does it on her own. Her mother and father are away at the moment, my parents are in Glasgow and she is in Dundee.
“So I think she sacrifices more than I do. But she knows it’s my dream – and she’s living it with me. I am grateful for everything she does.
“We had a baby boy (Ashton), he’s only three months old now. I am FaceTiming as much as I can right now as it changes everyday. It is very small down to the minute!
“Like I told my wife, I’m not going to start talking to him until he can pat his head and kick the ball!” He needs to grow up fast.
“No it’s been awesome, he’s got his little Scottish top – I posted a pic of that on Twitter. My daughter too (Shay).
Life on the pitch is going almost as well for Gallagher these days as it is off it, with a stint from Motherwell to Aberdeen the final leg of his rise from the lower leagues.
“I pinch myself all the time, I’m still pinching myself right now to be honest,” he said.
“It’s a dream come true. Playing for your country is a dream come true, but making a major final is amazing. These things don’t happen that often and if I’m honest I’ve never seen this. happen in my career.
“I was League One with Livingston, I played part-time for Stranraer and Clyde and the next thing you know is I’m at the Euro. It’s amazing to me and it’s something that is close to my heart.
“They say things come in three. I became a dad again, moved to a new club and now I’m in the Euro team.
“I’m just thrilled, words cannot describe how happy I am for myself and for my family who take great joy in every success.
“My career just got better and better. I never doubted. I have always had the conviction and the desire to make it happen. When I left Celtic I signed for Clyde and I was with Jim Duffy.
“He said he would help my career by working closely with me. He was a tough midfielder himself and something just told me it was the right decision. Working under Jim really pushed me.
“I owe him a huge debt because he really gave me the conviction that I could get back to the top. He gave Barry Smith the recommendation that got me back into the higher divisions.
“I came from Livingston in the championship, winning consecutive promotions, I stayed in the [Premiership] then I moved to Motherwell. We finished third, so the next logical step was to call on Scotland.
“It’s something I’ve always had my eye on. Stephen Robinson really pushed me at Motherwell too.
Gallagher will be hoping to save some playing time tomorrow night when the Scots take another step in their preparation with a friendly against Luxembourg, having come off the bench in the second half of the draw against the Netherlands on Wednesday.
He says the positive performance and outcome helped boost players’ confidence in the plan implemented by Steve Clarke, although he hopes that hasn’t made the rest of Europe take notice of the Scots quietly. confident.
“There is a good dynamic being built,” he said. “There is a good club atmosphere that is being built here, we are such a tight-knit group.
“The fact that the strength at depth is so good, with seven players left behind the other night, is a help. We had two other players, one a Champions League winner and the other a Europa League finalist. It just shows you the quality that we have.
“But, at the same time, we have to be quietly confident. Being the outsider works for Scotland, not getting too carried away.
“If we can stay under the radar and move forward in the group stages, that would be huge for the country. ”