Dean Campbell believes Scotland Under-17’s impressive win over Spain is the ideal preparation for the forthcoming Euros Elite Round.
The Aberdeen midfielder scored twice from the spot as Brian McLaughlin’s men saw off the hosts, on the back of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Poland.
It’s come as a real boost to a group – featuring 14 Scottish FA JD Performance School participants - that have grown together, on and off the pitch.
Dean, talk us through how you felt after the game.
It took a while for it to sink in, that we’d actually been able to go to Spain, match them and then beat them on their own patch. The boys are all buzzing.
Your coach, Brian McLaughlin, and Performance Director Malky Mackay both seemed especially pleased with the manner of the victory. How did you see the game?
It was a really hard-fought game. Both teams showed a lot of quality on the ball and managed to keep hold of possession. I know the staff were pleased with how patient we were. I think what separated us in the end was our desire to stay in the game and push forward. That paid off.
You kept your cool to score not once, but twice from the penalty spot. What was going through your head?
On a personal note, it was good to get the two goals. Taking the second penalty was a bit more nerve-wracking because I was in two minds about what to do. There was also a bit of a delay between it being awarded and me being allowed to take it. I decided to switch it up and thankfully it worked.
You’re obviously close as a squad, from the players to the coaching staff. For all your ability, do you think that gives you an extra edge?
Spain had a really strong team out. Every single one of their players was very good on the ball, fast and strong. What won us the game – I think – was our fight. We had more of that than them. That alone isn’t enough to win games but if you combine it with everything else then it can make all the difference. We have a really close group and we’ve played together for a wee while now. We trust each other on the ball and we believe in the game-plan. We probably celebrate every win like we’ve won the World Cup but we just enjoy playing football and I think that comes across.”
You’ve beaten Poland and Spain, while a few of the other boys will get a run-out against France on Thursday. How beneficial do you feel the week has been ahead of the Elite Round?
It’s given us added belief that we don’t need to worry about a team’s reputation before we play them. I think we knew that anyway but it’s always good to have that reinforced. We wanted to go into the Elite Round on a high and we definitely will now. The camp was a good idea, to do some warm-weather trainings and play against some top teams. We have had to dig in that bit deeper and it’s a good habit to get into.”