As a man who wore Three Lions on his shirt at youth level, Dan Pybus’ Dunfermline teammates knew exactly what to expect ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
“The moment I walked into training on the day after the semi-final win, a few of the boys said: ‘Just, don’t even say it,’ laughed Pybus. “But I still managed to get a few shouts of ‘It’s Coming Home’ in!”
While he now watches from afar along with the rest of his giddy compatriots, Pybus had the honour of representing his country at under-16 and under-17 level as he emerged through the ranks at Sunderland.
The roll-call of international colleagues he is able to reel off is staggering; from Champions League-winner Joe Gomez to £40 million-rated Chelsea and England striker Tammy Abraham.
“It’s an honour to represent your country and I was lucky enough to play with some wonderfully talented players who have gone on to have fantastic careers,” Pybus told Courier Sport.
“Patrick Roberts was absolutely outstanding at that age — really special — and I know he came up here and showed everyone what he could do at Celtic. Joe Gomez was so fast and strong, and you could see he was going to make it.
“Guys like Lewis Cook, Adam Armstrong, Tammy Abraham and Dom Solanke have all had really good careers and Jonjoe Kenny was another players who has been in Scotland with Celtic.
“Just being in that environment is an amazing learning curve and I loved every moment. I feel fortunate and unfortunate to have been among that group of players — because I might have got more caps otherwise!”
The search for first-team football at club level saw Pybus depart the Stadium of Light to join Bradford in March 2017, working under ex-Rangers and Scotland hero Stuart McCall at Valley Parade.
The combative midfielder has lavished praise on McCall, who encouraged him to bomb from box to box and gave him a valuable taste of senior competition as Bradford reached the League one playoff final.
While not involved, Pybus was part of the group which narrowly lost out 1-0 to Millwall under the same arches which will loom over the England-Italy showpiece this weekend.
“When I joined Bradford, we were up in the playoff positions and ended up reaching the playoff final,” recalled Pybus.
“Stuart McCall gave me a few chances towards the end of the season and was amazing with me — told me and all the other young players to express ourselves. His man management was second-to-none and I don’t have a bad word for him.
“It’s a big jump to go from youth football to men’s football and having a manager like Stuart McCall makes a world of difference.
“I was in the 20-man party for the  playoff final and got on the pitch for the warm-up in front of 90,000 at Wembley.
“He made sure all the boys got that experience — not just the 18 in the squad — and, given I was only 19, I’ll never forget it.”
‘I have more to my game’
After a change of management at Bradford — a baffling one in the eyes of Pybus — he slipped down the Bantams pecking order, ultimately arriving in Scottish football with Queen of the South in 2019.
Pybus has cultivated a reputation as something of a combative, destructive force in the SPFL and, while he has no desire to criticise Queens or former boss Allan Johnston, he feels he has more to give after two years at Palmerston.
His first chance to do so will come against Partick Thistle this afternoon.
“I was at Queen of the South for two years and I have a lot of respect for the club and the management team,” added Pybus. “But coming to Dunfermline, I think most people would admit that it is a different style.
“At Queens, you have to adapt and I appreciate that. I learned a lot about that side of the game. It was a good development step. But now I want to play high-intensity; box-to-box; scoring goals; creating chances.
“I have more to my game than I have shown in the last two years.”