The Herald on Sunday
Let’s make Wembley count, lads
Hanley’s message to Scotland team-mates: Centre-half insists all focus is on Croatia clash
GRANT Hanley has warned his Scotland team-mates that their heroic draw against England at Wembley cannot be allowed to go to waste and urged them to follow it up with a win over Croatia that secures a Euro 2020 last-16 spot.
The nation was still on a high yesterday following the outstanding performance that Steve Clarke’s side produced in their second Group D match against Gareth Southgate’s team in London on Friday night.
But Hanley, the Norwich City centre-half who was exceptional in defence and prevented first Harry Kane and then Marcus Rashford from scoring, knows the performance and result will count for nothing if they fail to beat Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday night.
He is focusing fully on helping Scotland secure a place in the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time in their history by beating the Russia 2018 finalists in Glasgow and is refusing to get carried away.
“We’re happy after Friday night,” he said. “But we’ve got a quick turnaround now before a massive game on Tuesday.
“We’re happy with a point against England, but we didn’t get too low after Czech Republic and we won’t get too high after this. It’s important to keep a lid on it and stay level.
“We need to recover quickly now and get ready to go again. We’re up against a top side on Tuesday and obviously we need a result. Of course, we want to finish the job now and not waste what we did on Friday night.
“Nothing’s changed since day one when the tournament started. The objective and the goal is the same and we’ve given ourselves a chance to do it. We’re really looking forward to it and we’ll have to be physically and mentally ready if we want to progress from the group.”
England have been heavily criticised in the media down south following the draw with Scotland on Friday night – but Hanley is unconcerned with the lack of respect that he and his team-mates have received for their display.
He is ignoring the outside noise ahead of one of the biggest games of
his career and is determined to help the national side hit the heights which they did at Wembley once again.
“We couldn’t care less what they say,” he said. “It’s all about us, we don’t care what people say about us. The real truth is within this camp, among the boys and the management staff. We know exactly how to look at ourselves properly and judge our performance.
“It goes without saying what this means to all of the boys. I’ve spoken in the past about what playing for my country means to me personally. It’s a massive part of my career.”
Hanley added: “I want to take every opportunity that I get to play for Scotland because it’s a real honour for me every time I wear that shirt.
“To play at a major tournament for your country is what you dream about as a wee boy.
“But going into the games themselves, you need to have a clear mind. You can’t get caught up in the occasion.
“You have to try and make the time go slowly, if that makes sense. I’m very conscious of not letting this period pass me by. I really want to soak it all up and enjoy it.
“But ultimately, I want to do my best for Scotland.”