John Souttar has seen Andy Robertson go from playing in public parks to a Champions League winner and says he isn’t surprised by his rise.
The Liverpool left-back will meet up with the Scotland squad for the European Championship double header with Cyprus and Belgium later this week after helping the Reds beat Tottenham 2-0 in Saturday’s European showpiece.
The 25-year-old’s journey from Queen’s Park, Dundee United and Hull City to the pinnacle of European football is remarkable.
But Souttar, who was born in Aberdeen and raised in Luthermuir, says what the Scotland skipper has achieved is not surprising.
The Hearts defender played with Robertson during the 2013-14 season at Tannadice.
And prior to the Champions League final a photo emerged on social media of Robertson, Souttar, Ryan Gauld and Joe McGovern having a kickabout that season at Riverside Park in Dundee, during a day off.
Souttar said: “I think that sums up his attitude.
“We were really young at the time and we just used to play football all the time.
“We used to go down the local park and play with the boys from our digs on a day off, play 4 v 4 and just enjoy it.
“That’s just what he’s like – he loves the game, is so down to earth, works hard and takes everything in his stride.
“I think he had goalie gloves on in that picture because we all used to take turns in goals.
“You can’t help but think back to where he was.
“But look at the season he’s had.
“He was in the PFA team of the year, so it wasn’t a shock.
“You just have to enjoy watching him play.
“He’s still the same guy he was, exactly the same. And that’s probably why he’s done so well.
“He doesn’t get carried away with himself – and is probably an example for every other player. To get to that level, do what he does.
“Everyone takes their own path in football.
“He obviously started out on a very hard path and worked hard, kept his head down, didn’t complain, stayed positive.
“He’s obviously had a brilliant family behind him, too, and now he’s won the biggest prize in club football.
“That’s down to him and down to his family, as well.
“They are amazing people.
“His mum and dad are really superb people – and I know he says that often.”
Souttar is looking forward to working under new Scotland boss Steve Clarke.
The 22-year-old said: “We just had the first session and it was tough.
“All the boys enjoyed themselves.
“I played against Killie last year and they were a good side.
“I’ll try to learn as much as I can from him.
“Killie were well drilled and hard to break down as we found at Hearts when we played them.
“It will be good for me to learn from him and how he wants to play.
“We did some shape work. We were getting going again.
“A few boys have had some time off so it was a good session.”