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Euro 2024: ‘Resilience defines Scotland warrior McTominay’

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McTominay is the product of a dad from Helensburgh who never missed an opportunity to bring his son across the border to bond with family and folklore.

There’s a story told by Alex McLeish about the time the then Scotland manager went on an epic journey through the worst of the Beast from the East in order to win McTominay over. The way Big Eck tells it, his mission was so arduous that even Bear Grylls would have balked at it.

As much as McTominay appreciated the effort – Gareth Southgate sent a text – he was always going to make himself available to the land of his father’s birth. The two loves of his football life – Manchester United and Scotland. Always.

We see him now as a 6ft 4in powerhouse but only those close to him remember him as a thin 5ft 6in wannabe.

He never played under-age football for his country. He spent two years in a gym. Resilience defined him then and defines him still.

He said something in the wake of that dramatic cameo against Brentford that captured his personality. “Never give up, man” he remarked on United’s late, late act of escapology. “You never give up, no matter the situation in life. Never give up. Never throw the towel in.”

These are words he’s lived by. If he’d not believed in himself he might have succumbed when the bigger names were signed in his position.

Pogba was already there when he made his debut in 2017, then came Nemanja Matic for £40m, Fred for £52m, Donny van de Beek for £35m and Casemiro for £65m.

There was also Christian Eriksen, Marcel Sabitzer, Sofyan Amrabat and more. McTominay has played 43 games for United this season. He played 89 minutes of their FA Cup final victory.

United folk will talk about the quarter-final against Liverpool. He scored a goal, assisted for Marcus Rashford, won 10 duels (more than any other player on the pitch), won 100% of his tackles and made the headed clearance from a Liverpool corner that sparked that breakaway for Amad Diallo’s winner. His energy levels on the day were outrageous.

In uncertain times and under new ownership at Old Trafford, nobody can predict the future, but for McTominay the only thing that will matter right now is Germany on Friday night, then Switzerland, then Hungary.

As much as United fans can talk about his big moments this season, Scotland supporters can speak for an age about the things he has done to get Scotland to Munich. The goals, the drive, the endless warrior spirit.

They’ll hope he’s got something special left in the tank. With McTominay and the magical run he’s on, you can almost bank on it.

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