WHEN Ryan Jack dreamt of playing for Scotland as a youngster, he perhaps didn’t envisage being booed on his debut. Then again, he probably pictured himself running out in the dark blue at Hampden, rather than at Pittodrie shortly after completing a move from Aberdeen to Rangers.

It may have been club allegiances that somewhat soured his Scotland bow, but truth be told, the Ibrox midfielder’s experience of the international arena didn’t get much better from that low starting point, with Jack feeling somewhat on the periphery of things.

Then, Steve Clarke arrived. There was something of a bumpy start to life under the former Kilmarnock manager too, mind you, with his club manager Steven Gerrard accusing the newly arrived Scotland boss of ‘running Jack into the ground’ during gruelling training sessions with the national side.

Those teething issues were resolved though, and Jack’s passion and enthusiasm for being involved in the national team set-up were restored too. Both he, and Scotland, are now benefitting hugely.

“When the manager here, Steve Clarke, got the job and we had a conversation, he made me feel a part of the Scotland set up straightaway,” Jack said. “That was massive for me.

“I think the international scene, if I’m being honest, I’ve not really had that before, where I felt right involved and a part of the plans.

“So that side of it really helped me and from that first conversation I thought this was the aim, I felt like there was the chance with the group we had that we could go and achieve something.

“We said at the start we were trying to go on a journey – and qualifying for a major competition is just the start.

“Going forward, there are going to be more competitions and more big games coming our way.

“So, this is the start – and hopefully we can continue it.”

If the celebrations that greeted Scotland’s qualification for Euro 2020 are just the start, as Jack puts it, then a heck of a party must lie ahead.

Jack’s former Aberdeen teammate Andy Considine has been central to that, inspiring the anthem that has earwormed its way into Scottish heads ever since the win over Serbia. Considine would probably want to be acknowledged for the way he has handled the step up to international football, but it is his influence on reviving Spanish disco group Baccara rather than his influence on the Scottish backline that has been the biggest offshoot of his Scotland career to date.

Not that his teammates, manager Steve Clarke or indeed the Scottish fans have any doubts that he can play as well as he can boogie, but Jack says the scenes he inspired in the Scotland dressing room are a sign of what has brought them success.

“The ‘I Can Boogie’ stuff has went crazy but it shows the team spirit and togetherness we have,” Jack said.

“After the game we put that song on and we knew that would get Andy up dancing – the big man was straight up there. It’s great to see and shows the team spirit the manager has built. We’ve built those relationships as a squad as well.”

It all led to an evening that won’t soon be forgotten, either for the accomplishments on the pitch or the celebrations off it.

“What a night, it was fantastic,” Jack continued. “We obviously knew as a group there was a lot of pressure going into the game. We’d spoken about it before that this was going to be the big one.

“One hundred per cent the scenes after the match will live with me forever. We enjoyed our night to say the least, let’s just say that!

“It was well deserved and no one can take that away from us – we deserved to go and have a good night, which we did.

“But, it’s gone now and after that the full focus has to be on the matches moving forward, with Israel the next one.”

That game tonight takes on added significance due to the defeat to Slovakia on Sunday, which left the Scots still requiring a result to earn promotion in the UEFA Nations League.

That might not be as sexy as qualification for Euro 2020, but the boost it will give to Scottish chances of making the World Cup in 2022 isn’t lost on Jack.

“It’s huge,” he said. “We said that about the other day – if we go and win the game or get a point, it was going to really help us. We never managed to, which is typical. We’ll go and do it the hard way as we always do.

“It’s going to be a really tough game. You’ll have seen that from the results and the way the games have went when we’ve played Israel, there’s no easy games. We’re expecting one of the toughest games we’ve had as a group. I’m sure if we stick together we’ll get over the line."