Steve Clarke says playing in the Euro 2020 finals was the catalyst for the “no mean feat” of six wins in a row as his Scotland side secured a home World Cup play-off semi-final.
A fine 2-0 win over group winners Denmark means the Scots will be seeded in the March play-offs.
Head coach Clarke thought it another indication of how his squad had “grown together”.
“Qualifying for the first tournament in 23 years was massive,” he said.
“Going to that tournament was really important for us. Take aside how it panned out, as a squad and team, that togetherness for almost four weeks together helped us to build and grow and I think, post-Euros, you see that improvement and gaining more confidence.”
Clarke was delighted with the added bonus of securing a win without having picked up any suspensions for the starters who were one yellow card away from missing the semi-final.
“We came into it and we were in a good place,” he said. “We wanted to put in a good performance to finish off what’s been a good campaign for us and we managed to do that in front of another fantastic Hampden crowd. A good night for everybody.”
However, for Clarke, the story of the night was John Souttar’s opening goal, which striker Che Adams added to late on.
The Hearts centre-half was a late call-up to the squad, only started after an injury to Jack Hendry but responded with his first international goal as he earned his first cap after a three-year gap plagued by injury problems.
“John Souttar can be the story tonight – the best story ever,” was how Clarke described it. “To come back from the injuries John had over such a prolonged period of time, I know how happy he was just to be in the squad and then to get the chance to play.
“The goal was obviously the icing on the cake for him – but his performance was outstanding as well. I gave him a big hug as he came off the pitch there and he was quite emotional.”
The only disappointment for Clarke was having to wait so long until the semi-final.
“Six wins in a row and unfortunately for me we go into a long hibernation, but it means that everyone can come back here in March in a good frame of mind,” he added. “If the team can pick up where they left off, we’ll be OK.”