KIRRIEMUIR footballer Scott McKenna insists representing his country has given him a boost as he prepares to focus on playing for Aberdeen.
As part of the Lloyds TSB Scotland Under-18 squad, the 17-year-old, who attends Webster’s High School, started every game in the Centenary Shield – winning the man of the match award against Wales.
And, although he was unable to help Scotland record a single victory during the competition, McKenna was part of the side that earned a last-gasp 1-1 draw with New Zealand in an exhibition match.
Now the defender is preparing to move out of the family home in Kirriemuir, making the near 60-mile trip up the coast to Aberdeen in order to concentrate full time on his playing career with the Dons’ Under-20 side.
And, having competed at international level, McKenna believes he is ready to force his way into starting for the team, prepared to deal with the physicality associated with the higher age group.
“We didn’t have the best of Centenary Shield tournaments but I thoroughly enjoyed my time,” said McKenna. “I started all the games and played the full 90 in four of them, winning man of the match against Wales before I came off injured.
“I have learnt a great deal from playing against the other countries and different people. It is much different from club football with travelling away and preparation but when I move to Aberdeen this will help me.
“I am leaving school in the summer and I want to be able to play as high as I can so I am focusing on that and hopefully I can force my way into the Under-20 team. I am really excited about it.
“When we played against New Zealand they were an older side than us and more physical but we dealt with it well and managed to grab a draw with a free-kick late on which was good.”
McKenna’s favourite encounter during his season with Scotland was the 3-1 defeat to England, held at St Johnstone’s home ground, McDiarmid Park.
And McKenna is hoping he has the chance to perform in many occasions of similar importance at senior level in the future.
“The best game was possibly against England. We lost 3-1 but we were the better side in the first half before they got a dodgy penalty and we just couldn’t find the same level in the second half,” he added.
“We were also playing at St Johnstone’s ground so the atmosphere was great and the whole thing was a good experience, playing against other nations and the best young players.”