Atmosphere ahead of Scotland’s Euro opener ‘phenomenal’, says Swinney

Atmosphere ahead of Scotland’s Euro opener ‘phenomenal’, says Swinney

First Minister John Swinney has praised the “phenomenal” atmosphere in Munich ahead of Scotland’s first game of Euro 2024.

Mr Swinney made the trip to Germany to watch the men’s national football team take on the hosts on Friday.

Dressed in a Scotland jersey and kilt, the First Minister was spotted on the streets of Munich, speaking to – and in one case being caught in an embrace with – members of the Tartan Army.

Among those he met was Craig Ferguson, who walked from Scotland to Germany to raise money for men’s mental health, with whom the First Minister shared a beer in a Munich bar.

“The atmosphere is just phenomenal,” the First Minister told journalists.

“The journey here was just great, mixing with all the Scotland fans that were coming. The Tartan Army has been on great form – you can hear them behind me.

John Swinney and Craig Ferguson holding up beers
The First Minister met Craig Ferguson, who walked to Germany (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“It’s just been such a lively, vibrant atmosphere and I can’t wait for the game tonight.”

The match in Munich is the first of 51 to be played over the next month to decide the next European champions, with the final taking place at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on July 14.

Tens of thousands of members of the Tartan Army have made the trip to Germany to cheer on their team, and at home thousands more are expected to pack out venues set up in cities to screen the game.

John Swinney hugs a Scotland fan
The First Minister met fans in Munich (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The First Minister will be in the stadium for the game and met members of the Bavarian government and energy companies early on Friday.

He was also pictured with his party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn – who had to scale back plans to be in Germany for at least Scotland’s three group stage games – and his Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson.

It will be an “enormous privilege”, the First Minister said, to represent Scotland at the game.

Stephen Flynn and John Swinney in Scottish clothing
Stephen Flynn had to scale back his plans for the Euros due to the General Election (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He also praised manager Steve Clarke, who he said has “given exceptional leadership to the team”, adding that he was “very optimistic”.

Speaking on Thursday, the manager said every one of the players in the squad were “desperate” to feature in the game.

“The enormity of the opener, however, is a bit of a sideshow and hopefully we don’t get too involved in that,” he added.

Scotland fans in Munich, with some wearing traffic cone hats
Fans have flocked to Munich ahead of the game (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“It’s a difficult game. One of the mantras I’ve always had is respect everyone and fear no one.

“We have respect for the host nation, we know they’re a good team but hopefully we can show everyone we’re a good team as well.”

In a statement, Scottish Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher said: “The waiting is nearly over and, like the rest of the country, I have my fingers crossed for Steve Clarke and his players as they begin their Euros campaign.”