Lewis Stevenson has vowed to make the most of his surprise Scotland call-up, admitting that, at the age of 30, he’d thought his chances of pulling on a dark blue jersey were long gone.
The Hibs defender was one of five Capital players named by national coach Alex McLeish for the end-of-season matches against Peru and Mexico, joined by Easter Road team-mates John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch along with the Hearts duo Jon McLaughlin and John Souttar, who – like Stevenson – also wins his first call-up.
While well aware the exclusion of Celtic’s Kieran Tierney and Liverpool’s Andy Robertson – being afforded a rest and on Champions League duty respectively – may well have opened the door for him, Stevenson insisted he was just delighted to be included ten years after his last involvement with Scotland’s Under-21 squad.
He said: “It is a massive honour to be called up and involved in the national team. It is something I never thought would happen and it is something that in my head I’d given up on achieving.
“I did always dream about playing for Scotland, even though I know there are top quality left-backs still available to play and be called up, I am just delighted to be involved. There comes a point when it doesn’t even cross your mind about getting a Scotland call-up. I must’ve been doing something right this season to be involved and it is something I feel proud about.
“If I am called upon in the matches, I’ll try my best to help out the team.”
Although it is a decade since he was last involved in the international set-up – winning eight under-21 caps to go with the three he picked up at under-19 level – Stevenson believes those experiences will help him to adjust to life as a national team player once again.
He said: “I am 30 years old now, so it has come as a surprise. I’ve been involved in Scotland set-ups at youth level when I was younger.
“The last time I was in an under-21s squad was about ten years ago! I am sure it is still similar going for international duty where you have to live and breathe football.
“Playing all those years ago has probably given me the experience of what to expect and anything new I will look to adapt quickly.
“I’ll be eager to grasp the opportunity, but I’m under no illusions that there are top quality left-backs throughout the country that couldn’t make this squad. However, I’ll be trying my best when I pull on the Scotland jersey.”
The presence of McGinn and McGeouch will also help as will knowing a number of McLeish’s squad from having played against them but, insisted Stevenson, the fact three Hibs players have been called up is testament to the season Neil Lennon’s side have enjoyed, securing a fourth-placed finish in the Ladbrokes Premiership on the club’s return to the division.
He said: “I owe it to the team. If the team were maybe languishing down the bottom of the table then I maybe wouldn’t have got this chance.
“A lot of the players at the club have made my job a lot easier at times, which has helped this year as we all work hard to make sure we cover for any mistakes that are made.
“It is nice having some familiar faces in the squad as it’ll make it a bit easier to bed in as it can be a bit like going to a new job and not knowing anyone.
“I’m sure I will know a few people from my time in the game as well, but having team-mates in the squad is a positive as it shows how well we have done as a team this season and I think it’s been a while since we had that many players called into the Scotland squad.”