Billy Gilmour figured out that he would be thrust into Scotland’s starting XI for last night’s game against England 24 hours beforehand when Steve Clarke’s team were working on set pieces in training, but the Chelsea midfielder had to wait until the squad were about to depart their hotel for Wembley before confirmation arrived.
On route to the stadium he sent a text to his parents to let them know and, in front of his family and friends, the 20-year-old went on to deliver a performance that belied his inexperience.
Gilmour won the player of the match award for his immense efforts. He seemed unfazed by the importance of the occasion and afterwards spoke with the same calmness as Scotland’s attention swiftly turns to their game against Croatia on Tuesday knowing that a win at Hampden Park will send them into the round of 16.
“It was a great performance by the full team,” Gilmour said. “We dug in really deep. We came here with a game plan, stuck to it, and did it really well. I was ready, I trained with the squad, all the boys have helped me settle in really well.
“To play against England in my first game, I’m so proud and to come here and do really well was even better. It gives us massive confidence against Croatia. We go back to the hotel to recover and then focus on them.”
Asked about how he learned of his starting role, the Cobham academy graduate said: “I found out in training before we travelled down – we had a slight idea, we were doing shape and set pieces. But it wasn’t until the last meeting before the game we found out the team. “My mum and dad only knew I was starting, I text them on the bus to the game and that was it.”
By the end Gilmour had several thousand Scotland fans singing his name having come out on top in an enthralling battle with his clubmate Mason Mount.
“It was amazing,” he said of the reaction. “The fans were incredible, singing from the first minute to the last. They gave us a massive boost. We knew…