Scott McTominay sheds Scotland sulk look as Man United smiling assassin turns back clock after Steve Clarke chat

webnexttech | Scott McTominay sheds Scotland sulk look as Man United smiling assassin turns back clock after Steve Clarke chat

Scott McTominay is Scotland’s smiling superstar after the key talks with Steve Clarke that brought back his boyish joy. The Manchester United midfielder casts aside hero status to claim he’s just a normal boy living the dream. But McTominay is a national treasure having enjoyed a spectacular year for his country. His two goals against Cyprus 12 months ago kickstarted a run that saw him bettered only by the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo in the scoring charts for Euro 2024 qualifying. The 27-year-old admits the surge coincided with Clarke sitting him down and having an honest discussion. At the time McTominay was struggling to get into his club side, feeling some unhappiness, perhaps even sulking a bit. Clarke sensed it. The manager’s chat struck a chord as the player said: “Yes, I’d say it did. That was the camp where the manager and I sat down and he said that I didn’t look happy, that I didn’t look like I was smiling about the place. “He just said he wanted to see the kid who was happy whenever he first came on the scene and was playing every week. He saw a boy who was smiling all the time. “I thought, ‘Maybe he’s right’. I spoke to my mum, my dad, my girlfriend at the time and they all pretty much said the same thing. “I feel like in my family it’s all about happiness and enjoyment. If my dad knows I’ve got a smile on my face when I’m playing, along with my grandparents, my mum, my sister and my girlfriend, then that’s all they want. “If maybe I’m looking like I’m sulking a little bit like maybe I was a couple of years ago or a year ago, then they want to know why and want to help you. They’ll say, ‘We’re here to help you, speak to the manager’. “That’s why it’s so important for young footballers to have a good support system around them. I’ve been very, very lucky in that respect. “Sometimes you just need to enjoy football, play with a smile and take it easy. Not everything’s the end of the world if you’re not playing so well and you’re not in the team, whatever. “Ever since that, I’ve just thought, ‘Let’s go for it’. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders. “You’re always going to have difficult periods in your career where you reflect on where you’ve come from and where you want to get to. Sometimes a conversation with the manager can be the best thing. It resets your brain, your mind and you think, ‘You know what, I can do this. I want to show that I can gain peoples’ trust’. “By speaking to someone, especially the manager because he’s honest and he’ll tell you up front, it can make a significant difference. I just want to do my absolute best for Scotland. People say, ‘You’re a hero’. No I’m not, I’m just a normal boy who is living his dream by playing football. I never look at myself as a hero or anything like that. “When I look back on my career it will make me very proud. But at the minute I just want to keep doing what I’m doing and not get too carried away with all the other things. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and say, ‘Listen, let’s just play football, how it was as a kid and enjoy it’. “I don’t like it whenever I’m not playing. It hurts me when I’m not playing so I’m obviously going to be upset whenever I come into camp. I’m running into the training ground, I’m not sulking, but I’m wanting to play. It’s your livelihood, you want to be a part of it as much as possible. “After that conversation,obviously things click a little bit and you just think, ‘You know what, you’ve got one career, you might as well go for it while you’re here’.” McTominay backed up his Cyprus double with another two against Spain three days later as Scotland set sail for Germany. He admits it was another huge boost and added: “I’ve never really lacked confidence, to a certain degree. I’ve always prided myself on how no matter how well I’m doing, I’ll still show myself, I won’t shy away from anything. Sometimes things just click.” McTominay’s push came after a spell playing in defence for Clarke. It was an unusual role but he said: “I know I was doing that for the team. “You can never sulk and say, ‘Bloody hell, what’s happening here?’ If that’s the role you’re given, then you take it and prove yourself. “Then, when the time comes you could maybe have a little conversation but I never had to because the manager is so good with me and he would always ask me certain types of things. I never had to knock on his door and say, ‘What’s happening here? I want to play’. He knows that I want to do that and that’s just the way that it went really.” McTominay spoke as he was named as the William Hill SFWA Men’s International Player of the Year and he said: “I look back at the players Scotland have had and winning this award gives me the most pride because of the amazing players we’ve had and following in their footsteps.” His chant is popular among the Tartan Army and he says it gives him “goosebumps” every time he hears it. As for the goalscoring form, it isn’t a shock as McTominay added: “I don’t want to come across as big-headed but I know what I’m capable of and I know that I’ve got more in the tank.”

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