John McGinn: I battled nerves to put in Scotland display

John McGinn shields the ball from Lasse Schone during the 1-0 win over Denmark. Pic: SNS
John McGinn shields the ball from Lasse Schone during the 1-0 win over Denmark. Pic: SNS
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Scotland man-of-the-match John McGinn today admitted he’d been as nervous as he’d ever been in the build-up to last night’s victory over Denmark.

The Hibs midfielder played the entire 90 minutes against the Danes on his full international debut and insisted being named the top player on the pitch was “crazy”, insisting goalkeeper Craig Gordon should have taken the accolade for a fantastic double save which ensured Matt Ritchie’s seventh minute strike was enough for Gordon Strachan’s side.

The Easter Road star was told on the morning of the game he’d be starting at Hampden and revealed he spent a restless afternoon trying to relax.

He said: “I was nervous to start of with, but the older boys helped me settle in and by the time kick-off came, I was relaxed.

“I tried to get some sleep in the afternoon, but I was pretty unsuccessful. I was just excited to get going and the warm-up took too long, but by the time I was on the pitch I really enjoyed it.

“I’m delighted we got the win and delighted to get my first cap.”

McGinn, who made the step up from captaining Scotland’s Under-21 side in his stride, paid tribute to the part his more experienced team-mates had played in guiding both him Celtic teenager Kieran Tierney through the match.

He said: “I’m playing with good players at club level and to come here and play with top players can only improve my game.

“I feel as if I am getting better and better as the season has gone on. I had a great opportunity this week to learn off good coaches and top players. I am just soaking everything up as a sponge and getting wee tips here and there.

“I was probably as nervous as I’ve ever been but that’s credit to the older boys – Gordon Greer, Scott on his 50th cap – for helping me and Kieran settle.

“Gordon Strachan just said do what you’re doing at your club, that’s why you’re here and don’t be overawed. Just do what you do, it was important me and Kieran did that and we showed that in spells.

“I was keeping an eye over at the bench so I was delighted to play the whole game, especially with such good players on the bench.

“It was great for my fitness to play at such a high level for 90 minutes.”

Even so, McGinn – who revealed he’d got his shirt signed my his team-mates with the intention of putting it on his wall – confessed to being surprised at being named man of the match, saying: “I heard the man of the match announcement. It was crazy. If you’d asked me a year ago that my name was going to be announced over the Hampden PA, I’d have laughed at you.

“It should have been Craig’s name. He was the man of the match for me – he kept us in it.”

McGinn admitted he found it tough going at times given the difference between the Championship and facing international opposition, but added: “I believe in myself and the fact I can play at this level. As long as I kept it simple and did the things I’m good at, I knew I’d be fine. I’m just delighted that I came through.”