Ryan Gauld is adamant watching his close pals Andrew Robertson and Stuart Armstrong ‘bring the country together’ at Euro 2020 has only made him more determined to be a part of Scotland’s World Cup push.
Gauld, 25, was restricted to a watching brief as Steve Clarke’s men embarked on the summer showpiece, having missed out on a place in the 26-man squad.
The classy playmaker’s omission came in spite of an outstanding Primeira Liga campaign with Farense, contributing to 16 goals (either scoring or teeing up) and leading the Portuguese top-flight in Expected Assists.
But rather than lick his woulds or lament his luck, Gauld has vowed to redouble his efforts after joining Vancouver Whitecaps, in a bid to gatecrash Steve Clarke’s group on the road to Qatar 2022.
“Playing for Scotland is always going to be an ambition as long as I’m playing,” said the Laurencekirk lad. “I had a good run last season but unfortunately I wasn’t included for the Euros.
“But watching the likes of Andy Robertson and Stuart Armstrong, who I played with at Dundee United, play at the Euros was special.
“Especially the performance they put in against England; I think that brought the whole country together and to have the chance to be a part of something like that in the future is definitely in my objectives.
“It gives me the ambition to drive on at Vancouver and reach the highest level I can, so hopefully it can one day be a possibility.”
Andy Robertson debrief
Gauld continued “I spent some time with Andy when he had his spell off and he was telling me how brilliant it was, and the great group that the team have.
“Any chance to be involved in that would be really special. As long as I’m still playing, that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for.”
Another of his former Tannadice pals, Johnny Russell, is vibrant proof that starring Stateside can earn a place in the Scotland squad — before Covid restrictions and a slight injury put paid to his run of selections.
“Johnny has been called up various times from [Sporting] Kansas so there’s absolutely no reason why I can’t be included in the future,” added Gauld. “As long as I can get a high level of play and make an impact on the team.
“Speaking to Johnny in Kansas, he is loving it out here and was telling me what a great city Vancouver was — and what a great club the Whitecaps are.”
Asked whether Clarke has been in touch, Gauld added: “There’s not been any contact from that side. I know as much as you, in terms of whether they’ve been keeping an eye on me.”
The vigour with which Gauld has been welcomed to British Columbia shone through during a press conference attended digitally by Courier Sport on Tuesday evening (10.30am in Canada).
Funny addition to the #VWFC press conference today: Shortbread and Irn Bru
First time having Irn Bru, and I must say… it’s pretty damn good pic.twitter.com/dmsn8TwI1e
— Alexandre Gangué-Ruzic (@AlexGangueRuzic) August 3, 2021
Following on from him being welcomed to Vancouver by a piper playing Flower of Scotland, to journalists on the ground being served Irn-Bru, shortbread and Mackie’s haggis crisps, there is a sense that Gauld’s arrival is big time; marquee.
And the former Sporting youngster insists feeling wanted, rather than the £3.5m-a-year pay packet, is what attracted him to the Whitecaps.
“I’ve never been one to make decisions based on money,” he continued. “There is more to a career and more to life than money.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) July 31, 2021
“This decision is down to the confidence everyone at the club showed in me; how much they wanted me; what they thought I could bring to the club.”
So much so that, even when the deal seemed jinxed — and with the likes of Porto, Benfica, Celta Vigo, Southampton and Brentford circling — his commitment never wavered.
He smiled: “It seemed like every obstacle that could be put in my way, happened. From not making flights to quarantine and work permits. It was a tough couple of weeks.
“There were plenty of mishaps but it never entered my head that it was a sign that I was making the wrong decision — I’m delighted.”