FOR Scotland supporters, it was a moment that summed up the topsy-turvy experience of following the national side. From the buoyancy of watching Billy Gilmour announce himself on the international stage with a sterling showing against England at Wembley, to having that optimism pricked mere hours later as their star man tested positive for Covid-19.

As gutting as the realisation that Scotland would have to face Croatia in their do-or-die final group game of the Euros without the midfielder was for fans, it was even more devastating for the 19-year-old himself. Instead of battling Luka Modric for control of the midfield at Hampden, Gilmour was climbing the walls in a hotel as he watched his countrymen crash out of the tournament.

It is little wonder then that Gilmour is desperate to make up for that disappointment by making sure that Scotland are back at the party in Qatar next year.

"I felt fine but when I got told I was gutted,” Gilmour said. “I was asking to do more tests but they all came back positive so it wasn't good.

"I had to watch the Croatia game, sitting by myself. I was cheering them on but I was gutted for the lads.

"It just made me hungrier to come back here and prove why we should be going to the World Cup.

"Honestly I don't have a clue [how I got it]. I still think to myself every day, 'How have I managed to catch it?’ I don't have a clue.

"It was a long 10 days but there was football on the TV so I got to watch that. That was the only positive.

"I wasn't allowed to train. I couldn't do anything. I just had to stay in my room and watch TV. That was it.

"From the high of Wembley to a low that quickly was hard. I was gutted but I was happy I got to go to the Euros, especially after it was the first time Scotland had qualified in so long. It was an amazing experience.”

Another great experience for Gilmour came on Saturday night as he eventually made his delayed bow in front of the Scotland fans on home soil. He appreciates the response he is getting from the Tartan Army, and hopes to repay it in spades.

“It is always good hearing them shout you on and cheer you on,” he said. “They were loud [on Saturday night] and helped the team push through.

“To walk out at Hampden for the first time was a special night. It is one I will remember. My family were here watching so overall it was a good night.

“I want to represent my country. I love coming away here. They are a good group of boys and we have a good manager and we are looking to go to the World Cup. We want to do something special.”

Gilmour is currently enjoying a loan spell at Norwich City, where he is learning about life as a regular in the English Premier League the hard way, with the Carrow Road side experiencing a difficult start to life back in the top-flight.

On a personal level though, the time away from the fringes of the Chelsea side is proving hugely beneficial.

“It’s massive for me,” he said. “I wanted to go on loan and get a lot more experience of first team football.

“I feel a lot fitter and I feel a lot stronger playing week in, week out. To come here and play was good. I am feeling stronger.

“Hopefully there is a lot more to come for sure. I want to keep improving and building on myself – and adding goals. Hopefully there is a lot more to come.”

Gilmour may well have added a goal to his five Scotland caps against Moldova, and he probably should have, putting a glorious chance past the post in the second half.

“I know!” he laughed. “I am still waiting for that first goal. I honestly I had put it in the net…then I saw it go past the post. I am gutted. Hopefully it comes soon – hopefully next week!”