Hibs' Kevin Nisbet speaks on attitude and playing for Scotland ahead of his big chance

Kevin Nisbet was just five years old when Scotland stumbled to a 2-2 draw in Toftir in 2002, a Barry Ferguson goal eight minutes from time sparing Berti Vogts’ men the shame of losing to the 123rd-in-the-world-ranked Faroe Islands.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 6:00 am
Nisbet will be keen to add to his Scotland tally - his sole strike to date this goal against the Netherlands during a June 2021 friendly

It was a second tied game in just over three years following a 1-1 draw at the same venue in 1999 in which Matt Elliott was sent off for the Scots and the hosts scored a late equaliser.

With Nisbet standing a good chance of being handed a second competitive start for his country after Che Adams was ruled out through injury, the Hibs forward remains focused on ensuring the Nordic minnows don't enjoy another memorable result against their near neighbours.

While sympathetic to Adams’ plight, Nisbet is eager to seize his chance – and potentially add to his sole Scotland goal so far, scored against the Netherlands in a friendly earlier this year.

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Nisbet's only start for Scotland came in a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win against Moldova

“Che and I get on really well so it wasn’t nice to see him come off with an injury,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s clash in Tórshavn.

“But it is an opportunity for me to play and if from the start or during the game I’ll be ready when called upon.

“I’m always behind the team whether I start, or I’m on the bench. We’re a group of boys who are always behind each other.

“I’ve fought for everything I’ve got just now. It’s nothing new to me. If an opportunity arises then I’ve got to take it.”

Nisbet made his international debut against the Faroes in March

The 24-year-old made his Scotland debut in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win against the Faroes at Hampden in March.

“They are a good team, keep the ball well, and have some good players who play at a decent level,” Nisbet explained.

“It’s going to be tough. Teams who go to the Faroes don’t win comfortably. We need to be at it from the first whistle and put some dominance in the game.

"We just need to keep the ball moving and keep things quick. We need to go in with the same mindset as we had against Israel.

Kevin Nisbet's Euro 2020 experience whetted the striker's appetite for more - and he wants to help Scotland become major tournament regulars once again

“Every game is a cup final now. We need to work hard, move the ball and give them respect because they are a good team.

“They have had some decent results so we won’t underestimate anyone.”

Nisbet was an unused substitute in the dramatic 3-2 victory against Israel at the weekend and although he enjoyed the “incredible” scenes as Scott McTominay’s late goal sealed victory, he admitted to being a bag of nerves on the bench.

"You’re always more nervous watching but it was electric and the fans got right behind us.

Nisbet has cemented his role as Scotland's third-choice striker under Steve Clarke

“I think that gave us the edge towards the end going for the winner. With results like that I think you need to be able to enjoy the night and wind down but then the next day we were straight into the Faroes.

“You’re training and your full focus is on the Faroes because it’s going to be a tricky game.”

Three points in the Faroese capital would of course go a long way to helping Scotland in their bid to qualifying for Qatar 2022 and Nisbet is adamant the team can build on their performances to date.

"We’re really happy. We’re sitting four points ahead and it’s in our hands to go and finish the job,” he continued.

“We’ve got some tough games coming up away to the Faroes and then away to Moldova and at home to Denmark.

“It’s not over yet but it’s up to us to go and finish the campaign strongly. We’ve got a long road ahead of us but we back ourselves to do it.”

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The first World Cup Nisbet can clearly remember was the 2010 edition in South Africa. Having had a taste of tournament football at Euro 2020 he is eager to play his part in helping take Scotland to major competitions on a more regular basis once again.

“We’re starting to show that we are a very good team and we’re really hard to beat.

“The Euros was our first major tournament in a long, long time and we don’t want to stop there. We want to qualify for more major tournaments soon and I think this is the best group of boys to go and do that.

“There’s still a long way ahead, a lot of really tough games coming up and the playoffs will be really tough if we get there but hopefully we can do it.”

Nisbet’s steely determination marks a change in attitude from the player, who freely admits that his approach during his formative years at Partick Thistle left a lot to be desired.

"I’ve said a few times now that my attitude wasn’t what it should have been for a professional. I changed that and experience comes with playing games. Going to Raith kicked me on.

“Mostly it’s been about my attitude. I’ve fixed that and now I’m in the Scotland set-up and I’m playing with Hibs. I just need to keep it going.

“You need to be a lot sharper, quicker and stronger [in international football]. Everything sort of multiplies by ten.

“I’m playing alongside boys who play in the Premier League and have won Champions Leagues and are playing week-in week-out at a very high level – the level you want to get to.

‘But I think I’ve settled in well. I’ve been in a couple of camps now and I’m really enjoying it.”

Conceding that he took things for granted as a youngster, Nisbet feels he has been to the bottom and has no desire to find himself back there.

“I was the up-and-coming thing in Scottish football. Now that I’ve been down at the low levels I don’t want to go back there.

“I want to keep playing at the highest level possible.

“I appreciate it a lot more and treat every game like it’s my last.”