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Willie Miller: Steve Clarke’s Scotland can be history-makers at Euro 2024

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My advice to Scotland is to not be overwhelmed at facing hosts Germany in the Euro 2024 opener in Munich.

Steve Clarke’s Scots will be underdogs as the Euro 2024 tournament kicks off against Germany on Friday at the Allianz Arena.

The world will be watching the tournament opener.

And the Scots must go into the match believing they can win.

I played for Scotland against West Germany in the 1986 World Cup when we narrowly lost out 2-1 in a very close match.

We were not overawed by West Germany, despite them being one of the best teams in the world.

And we certainly went up against the Germans fueled by the belief we could win.

Gordon Strachan celebrates scoring for Scotland against Germany in the 1986 World Cup. Image: Shutterstock.

West Germany went on to reach the 1986 World Cup final, losing 3-2 to Argentina, but we pushed them hard.

My former Aberdeen team-mate Gordon Strachan memorably scored the opener to put us ahead.

Scotland players must go out determined to match Germany like we did in 1986 – and hopefully go one better.

Ultimately, we fell short, but we weren’t far short on the day. They were just a fraction better than us and took the three points.

It is going to be tough against Germany on Friday, but hopefully fortune will be reversed at Euro 2024 and the Scots can get something.

Scotland's Scott McTominay scores in the defeat of Spain.
Scotland’s Scott McTominay scores in the defeat of Spain. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson.

Opening the tournament against the host nation is a fantastic opportunity and stage for the Scotland squad.

I’m sure the players will embrace the challenge as it offers the platform to really test themselves.

I think being tested by the very best is important as a player, as you are in the game to play at the highest level possible.

Germany are serial winners of major tournaments and Scotland will be facing top-quality players in a magnificent stadium.

It is the chance for Scotland to make a mark and get something from the game.

If Scotland find their top game, they can make history by qualifying from the group of a major finals for the first time.

Scotland's Lawrence Shankland celebrates after scoring to make it 2-2 during the Uefa Euro 2024 qualifier in Georgia.
Scotland’s Lawrence Shankland celebrates after scoring to make it 2-2 during the Uefa Euro 2024 qualifier in Georgia. Image: SNS.

They are more than capable of achieving that – although they will have to be at their best in all three group games against Germany, Switzerland and Hungary.

If they reach the knock-out phase, it would be tremendous for the nation and Scottish football.

Getting out of group would stay with Scotland squad forever

And if you can secure that success as a player, it stays with you for the rest of your life.

It is a great chance for these players to put themselves up there among the very best that Scotland have produced.

Scotland have been hit with injuries to key players such as Lyndon Dykes and Aaron Hickey, which set them back a little.

However, I have no doubt the squad is strong enough to get out of the group.

John McGinn celebrates after making it 3-0 against Cyprus.
John McGinn celebrates after making it 3-0 against Cyprus. Image: SNS.

In Switzerland and Hungary, we are not talking about the top cream of European football.

They are both very good sides, who have done well to qualify for the Euros.

However, I’m looking at these games and thinking there is the possibility of wins there.

Scotland have featured in the finals of eight World Cups and three Euros prior to this summer’s Euro 2024 – yet they have never qualified from the group stage.

Many fantastic players, managers and teams never qualified from the group stage of a major finals.

Germany's Peter Briegel and Scotland's Willie Miller at Estadio La Corregidora, Queretaro, Mexico, in the 1986 World Cup.
Germany’s Peter Briegel and Scotland’s Willie Miller at Estadio La Corregidora, Queretaro, Mexico, in the 1986 World Cup. Image: Shutterstock.

Which underlines how momentous an achievement it would be if Steve Clarke and his Scotland squad can end that long drought this summer.

Scotland go into Euro 2024 having let a two-goal lead slip against Finland to draw 2-2 in the final friendly before the tournament.

However, it is difficult to judge from a friendly where a lot of changes were made.

The real action begins on Friday and that is where Scotland can shine.

This is their opportunity to make history and they have to grab it.

Jonny Hayes exits an Aberdeen legend

Winger Jonny Hayes has left Aberdeen as a club legend after two spells at the club.

It was recently confirmed the 36-year-old has left Pittodrie after rejecting the offer of a senior full-time position within the club’s youth academy.

Hayes’ playing contract with the Dons expired at the end of the season.

As well as his playing career, Hayes had also been working within the club’s youth development system.

The highlight for me was when Hayes was part of a potent attack alongside Niall McGinn and Adam Rooney. That was free-flowing football when those three clicked together.

Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie gives Jonny Hayes the armband during the win against Livingston.
Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie gives Jonny Hayes the armband during the win against Livingston. Image: SNS.

I would like to wish Hayes all the best in the future as he has been a tremendous servant for Aberdeen.

He did a magnificent job for the club.

Hayes’ exit is one of the first developments in what will be a busy summer for new manager Jimmy Thelin.

More players will leave and Thelin will look to bring in his own signings.

It is likely keeper Kelle Roos and midfielder Connor Barron will exit as their contracts are up this summer and they have not signed new deals.

Defender Stefan Gartenmann has also returned to parent club FC Midtjylland in the Danish top-flight after his season-long loan deal ended.

That is three regular first-team starters who are likely to need replaced.

And there is also the question of whether a club will come in with an offer this summer for star striker Bojan Miovski that is too good to turn down.

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