THE inordinate length of time it has been since Scotland last qualified for a major tournament is well known to every football supporter in this country and is a source of deep concern for anyone who cares about the wellbeing of the game here.

France ’98, if you really need reminding, is the last time the national men’s team made it through the finals of either the European Championship or World Cup.

READ MOREAndy Robertson wins Champions League crown with Liverpool

Yet, the wait for a player from these shores to triumph in the Champions League final – something that was an almost annual occurrence back in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - has been even longer and every bit as demoralising.

So seeing Andy Robertson help Liverpool defeat Spurs in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on Saturday evening was understandably celebrated by his compatriots far and wide regardless of their allegiances.

Paul Lambert, the last Scot to do it before him, was certainly delighted. He turned out for Borussia Dortmund as the German giants stunned their highly-fancied Italian opponents Juventus in the Olympiastadion in Munich back in 1997 and ran out 3-1 winners. He has been surprised it has taken one of his countrymen so long to emulate his magnificent achievement.

Barrhead News: Paul Lambert lifted the Champions League trophy in 1997 Paul Lambert lifted the Champions League trophy in 1997

“It is 22 years since I did it,” he said. “If you had said to me it would be that long at the time I would have said: ‘No way is that going to happen!’ For it to be 22 years since I did it is far too long for us to have a player enjoying success at that sort of level.

“It is the same with the national team. It is now 21 years since we qualified for the finals of a national tournament. It just shows you that you can never take anything for granted in football.”

Lambert, who is now manager at Ipswich Town, has, like so many in world football, marvelled at Robertson’s meteoric rise to the top. Let go by his boyhood heroes Celtic as a teenager, the left back played for Queen’s Park, Dundee United and then Hull City before winning a dream transfer to Liverpool two years ago. However, the former midfielder’s career took a similar circuitous path.

“My situation was slightly different in that I had to go abroad to get to the level that Andy is at,” he said. “I had to integrate into a foreign team, had to go into a dressing room full of Italia ’90 and Euro ’96 winners, had to learn a completely new language, had to learn German.

Barrhead News: Andy Robertson joins his team-mates as captain Jordan Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy Andy Robertson joins his team-mates as captain Jordan Henderson lifts the Champions League trophy

“But we are similar in the respect that we both started out at provincial clubs. I played for St Mirren and then moved to Motherwell before joining Dortmund. I think what Andy done is great. It is brilliant to see that those clubs can produce a lad who has achieved the highest honour in the club game.”

Lambert is hopeful the upbringing that Robertson has had in the game will ensure the 25-year-old defender remains firmly grounded despite his new-found fame and celebrity status and enjoys many more memorable triumphs both at home and abroad with Liverpool in the seasons to come.

“I don’t know the lad,” he said. “I’ve never come across him. But what I like about him is he is a humble guy. If he can keep that humbleness then it will be good for him going forward. He has worked really hard. He had a few setbacks in his early career. It is admirable that he has come through them to get to where he has.

“To me, he just looks like a lad who loves playing football. That is a great thing to see. There is no big headedness there. He isn’t in the slightest bit aloof. He is just a lad who wants to be as successful as he possibly can be.”

Lambert is optimistic that Robertson’s success will inspire other aspiring footballers in Scotland and will be the catalyst for them scale the same heights in the seasons to come. But he warned them that they will have to show the same total dedication to their profession in order to do so.

“It is all about hard work,” he said. “Football is never going to give you anything. You have to go and earn it. I think that is true in any walk of life. You have to be respectful of team mates. You have apply yourself ever so hard. If you do that you will get the rewards for it.


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“It is hard, hard work and you have only got a short space of time to do it. If you put in the effort and are dedicated then anything can happen. Where you fall down is if you aren’t prepared to do that sort of thing. Andy has said that himself – that sheer hard work has got him where he is.”

Lambert, who will fly out to Hong Kong this week for play for a Borussia Dortmund legends team against, ironically, a Liverpool greats side in an exhibition match, still has one up on Robertson.

“The greatest thing for me, which I didn’t actually know until quite recently, was that I was the first British player to win the Champions League with a foreign team,” he said. “People had tried it, but hadn’t done it. I was the first one. It is a nice achievement I suppose.

“To play that Juve team that we came up against with the great players they had, (Zinedine) Zidane, (Dider (Deschamps), (Angel) Di Livio, (Paolo), Montero, (Alen) Boksic, (Christian) Vieri, and win was an incredible feeling.”

The eagerly-anticipated meeting between Jurgen Klopp’s men and Maurico Pochettino’s charges, two of the most dynamic and exciting sides in England, in Spain on Saturday failed to live up to expectations.

The fact that neither club had played since the Premier League ended three weeks earlier led to a forgettable and decidedly scrappy encounter . The spot kick that Liverpool were awarded in the very first minute and which Mo Salah duly netted, also impacted on proceedings with the Anfield sitting back and protecting their lead.

After the drama of the semifinals, when Liverpool and Spurs came back from being 3-0 behind to Barcelona at home and Ajax away respectively, it was a definite anticlimax.

Lambert, though, feels that Robertson, who defended well throughout and played some dangerous crosses into the opposition box during the course of the 90 minutes, can be proud of his personal contribution.

“Liverpool and Spurs are two great teams,” he said. “I thought Tottenham were good. The penalty being awarded so early in the game might have taken the sting out of the game. It never became a match that excited the spectators greatly after that. But the most important thing for everybody involved on tense occasions was the result.

“It was a hard, hard game. I thought both teams gave everything at the end of a long season. I don’t think there was a standout player. The Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson had a good match. I thought that Andy did as well as anybody on the pitch in the circumstances.”

Lambert, though, is pleased that Robertson has become the 31st Scottish player to pick up a winner’s medal in Europe’s premier club competition and has told him he will be remembered forever as a result of his incredible accomplishment.

“I never really think about what happened all those years ago when we won it,” he said. “If people ask me then I will tell them about it. But other than that I don’t really speak about it.

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“It was a very fleeting thing, but nobody can ever take that away from me. In a year or two Andy will be the same. He will forget about it, but nobody will ever be able to take it away from him. That will be great thing for him.

“He could win it again. He is only 25 and has several seasons at the very highest level ahead of him. He is a key member of this Liverpool team and is only going to get better. The experience he has gained has been invaluable. But he will always be able to say he won the Champions League now.”

This article was originally in our sister title, The Evening Times

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