The biggest disappointment of my Scotland career would be the best way to describe the last week.
I haven’t managed to digest most of the feelings after the result.
On Tuesday night, after the 1-0 defeat to Finland ended our Euros qualification hopes, I had a numb feeling of disbelief. This has since developed into a rollercoaster of low emotions and reflective thoughts as this week has went on.
The game itself was not our primary undoing, that had been the impact of the two losses in the prior games (away against the Finns and Portugal), by the same scoreline.
I can say with great assurance our self-belief to still get the results we needed remained intact, as we returned from Portugal and looked towards Tuesday night. We reflected on the position we were in and we knew what was needed to give us an opportunity to at least merit a play-off spot. Of course, we needed three wins.
Looking back on the game, I felt as though we played with the intensity and tempo we had demanded of each other and we dominated throughout. In comparison with the two games beforehand, we played forward quicker and were far braver in the wider areas. However, we just couldn’t find a way to get the goal that we needed.
Finland’s breakaway goal in the 93rd minute was against the run of play, although a draw wouldn’t have been enough anyway.
The only way to describe the outcome of this campaign, is as a failure. We were expected to top the group and, not only that, we had a buffer of knowing finishing second would also allow us a play-off spot at a minimum.
Losing three games in a row has not happened for a very long time for us and, since my inclusion as a national team player, it is extremely rare and unlike us to fall at the hands of a team ranked below us.
The next period will be one of deep reflection for all of us and it will be a hurtful few months.
Many of us will continue to play alongside club team-mates who will enjoy the successes of their national team’s qualification for the tournament in summer 2022. We will then have to watch the growing anticipation as things start to build-up towards the finals hosted on our doorstep, in England.
There will still be the final two group games in the New Year, which by then we will need to be ready to embrace as the beginnings of a new journey and new purpose.
An away trip to Cyprus in February will be followed by a home game against Portugal, who will be pushing to still win the group over Finland.
By the time this comes around, it can only act as preparation for the World Cup qualification campaign which will begin in August. However, right now it is impossible to find any peace in thoughts of another campaign, while the wounds of our Euros failure are still fresh.