Murray Johnson keen to emulate Hibs colleague as he admits Scotland U21 call 'came as a surprise'
and live on Freeview channel 276
The 18-year-old was named in Scot Gemmill’s squad for the Spanish-based tournament which is serving as a final warm-up competition ahead of the start of Euro 2025 qualifying in September and Johnson is relishing his first taste of being with the Under-21s having been capped at Under-16, Under-17, and Under-19 level.
"It was obviously a real honour to get the call," he told the Scottish FA website. "I've played in the age groups up until that but I think the Under-21s is another level in itself. It probably came as a bit of a surprise but it's just amazing to be alongside some of these players and learning off them every day. So far I've really enjoyed it.
"I played in the Victory Shield in Wales which was Under-16s. Then I went to Under-17s, Under-19s recently, and now into Under-21s. It’s been a really good pathway for me through the Scotland age groups. With the Under-19s it was hard because we didn’t qualify and we lost games but looking back and evaluating the games I felt I did do quite well.
"Growing up in Scotland and Edinburgh my whole career and my whole life, it’s a genuine honour to represent the country that your whole family is from. Every time I pull on that shirt it’s an absolute honour for me.”
The goalkeeper, who played a key role in Hibs winning the under-18 league title last season and performed well during the UEFA Youth League campaign, has also had two emergency loan spells with Airdrie as he continues his development.
"I went on loan to Airdrie at the start of the season and managed to get five games under my belt which was great. I was still 17 at the time and it came out of the blue a bit, being an emergency loan. I just tried to take it all in my stride and I felt I did pretty well there. The manager and every single one of the players there helped me. Then I came back and played for Hibs in the UEFA Youth League. We beat Molde on penalties at Easter Road which was unbelievable. I saved a penalty in the shoot-out. It was crazy, one of the best atmospheres. We also got Dortmund at home and came up just short, but we came so close. There were nearly 10,000 fans there and I don’t think many players can say they’ve played in Europe by the time they’re 18 so that in itself was an achievement for the club, but also me individually.”
Joining up with the 21s has also given Johnson a chance to catch up with former Easter Road team-mate Josh Doig, who is impressing in Serie A for Hellas Verona and attracting interest from some of Europe’s top clubs.
"I know Josh well from our time together at Hibs. It was great to see him again because I’ve not seen him for a while, since he moved over to Italy. He seems to be really enjoying himself and he’s doing excellent. I know a lot of the lads who have been called up from the Under-19s. We played together in the qualifiers there in Scotland. It’s a good group to be a part of and everyone has been so welcoming.”
As an Edinburgh native, Johnson grew up watching Scotland and has made a fair few trips to Hampden as a fan, but would dearly love to follow in Marshall’s footsteps and play there for the senior international side. He also has one particular fond memory at the national stadium.
“I went to the Scotland-England game when Leigh Griffiths scored the two free-kicks. Unbelievable. Probably the biggest roar and the biggest buzz that I have ever had football – including playing! When he scored that second free-kick, I can just remember Hampden being the biggest roar in my life.
"My whole family were super proud when I got the Under-21 call-up and any minutes that I get would be a massive honour. Not just for me but my whole family would be delighted with that too. There’s nothing better than making your family proud.”
Johnson is also aiming to take inspiration from club colleague and mentor David Marshall as he hopes to pave a way on the international stage. Promoted to the first-team squad by Easter Road boss Lee Johnson means the teenage shot-stopper is learning closely from the veteran gloveman, who hung up his international boots last year after winning 47 caps for Scotland.
The 38-year-old played in some memorable games for the national team and Johnson, having worked his way through the ranks, is keen to follow in the Hibs No.1’s footsteps.
"Marsh has been different class," Johnson continued. "He's a gentleman but he's also got unbelievable quality as a goalkeeper. Being able to train alongside him every single day and now being back-up to him is an incredible experience.
"If you've got people like that in front of you to learn from every day, then hopefully that is going to be amazing for your development. He's been so good for me. It's a bit cheesy but he probably was a hero of mine at some point, somebody I looked up to and wished I could be like.
"It's surreal but being a young goalie trying to develop, if you've got somebody like that in front of you then it's the best development you can get. He's been at the highest level of the game, and hopefully that's one day where I'll go to as well.”