Jack Hamilton admits he and his proud family have been blown away by his surprise call-up to the Scotland squad for next month’s World Cup qualifier in Malta.
The 22-year-old Hearts keeper was included in the last squad for the friendlies against France and Italy at the end of last season. However, having made only 17 first-team appearances for his club, he didn’t expect to keep his place for the competitive action and was anticipating instead being restored to the Scotland Under-21 squad.
“I got a text just before the squad came out on Monday staying I was in the full squad and I was absolutely delighted – it’s what you dream of as a young boy,” he told the Evening News. “To go away with the squad in the summer was a great learning curve for me, but to go away for the first World Cup qualifier is massive.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to go away and train with the top players in the country and learn from them. I can’t wait to meet up with the squad. It all means so much to me. My family are all really proud. I think they’re a bit starstruck by it all. My mum, dad and brother are at all my games. They’re over the moon for me. You can tell it means so much to them.”
Hamilton’s transition from the under-21 to full squad has been aided by the fact familiar faces like Rangers’ Barrie McKay, Hibs’ John McGinn and his long-time Hearts team-mate Callum Paterson are making the step up with him.
“For Callum to come away with me, having known him from such a young age, means a lot,” he said. “We both started at Hearts around the same time, at under-16s, so we’ve come through the ranks together all the way into the Scotland squad. I know the likes of McGinn and McKay as well, so I’ve got boys I can speak to straight away, but all the rest of the boys are really good with you. It doesn’t take long before they’re speaking away to you.”
Hamilton believes on-form Hearts defender John Souttar will be one of the next players to step up from the Scotland Under-21 squad to earn full international recognition. “Souttar’s brilliant,” said Hamilton. “He really wants to improve. He has a strong mind and he knows what he wants to do. He’s a big strong boy, he’s quick and he can use the ball so he’s got everything you would want in a centre-back. He’s a massive player for Hearts and he can definitely kick on into the Scotland squad.”