Steve Clarke feels he has reached the “pinnacle” of his career after being unveiled as the new Scotland head coach.
The former Kilmarnock boss has signed a three-year contract, and Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell was delighted to secure his services.
Speaking at a press conference, Maxwell said: “On behalf of the board on the Scottish FA, I am delighted to welcome Steve Clarke as our new national team head coach.
“Over last few weeks, the board and myself have conducted a diligent and robust process with a number of high-quality candidates. Through each stage of this process, Steve jumped out as the outstanding candidate.
“I think the job he has done at Kilmarnock, taking them from the position they were in when they took over to a top-six finish last season, was incredible, and to surpass that with a third-placed finish and European football with a record number of points is an outstanding achievement.
“I would like to thank Kilmarnock for the way they have handled this process, it can’t be easy for them to lose a manager who has achieved success in such a short space of time, but we are absolutely delighted to have Steve’s services and look forward to the rest of the qualifying campaign and the future.”
Clarke was also grateful to Kilmarnock for the chance they gave him to prove his Scotland credentials.
He said: “I am absolutely humbled and honoured to be in charge of the national team. I played for Scotland but to manage Scotland is probably the pinnacle.
“I wouldn’t be without the time I had with Kilmarnock. It was an unbelievable 18 months I had there with great success. Again, I want to thank Kilmarnock for everything they gave me to make this opportunity possible.
“But now it’s a new chapter, a new challenge. And anybody who knows me knows that I like a challenge. I like to challenge myself. If I was a lazy person I would still be at Chelsea in the assistant manager’s seat. This is a big challenge and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Clarke guided Kilmarnock to third place in the Ladbrokes Premiership and into Europe for the first time since 1966 before leaving less than 24 hours later.
He said: “A lot of things fell into place, professional and personal, very similar to Kilmarnock. So it was a good time to leave Kilmarnock. To be honest, the Scotland job came up and complicated things.
“I am delighted to finish the way we finished at Kilmarnock. That was my worry about the whole process, that the Scotland issue would accelerate. So to get that result at the weekend took that weight off my mind.”I can assure you I will be working really hard for the Tartan Army.”
Clarke wants Scottish fans back on board with the national team and also indicated that reaching a major finals for the first time since 1998 would not be enough for the 55-year-old.
He added: “We want to make them proud of their country and their team. We want them to come to the matches and get right behind the team like they always do. It’s dwindled a little bit.
“But it’s my job to ensure the team is focused. I only want players that are 100 per cent committed to the national team.”I will give everything I have got to try and qualify and qualify through the group stages. The two matches in June are absolutely crucial.
“I can’t relax. Between now and the Belgium game, we have to pick up as many points to get our qualification back on track.
“It is vital that all the Scottish teams are successful. Whether it’s under-age or the women’s team.
“The women’s team have done wonderful to qualify to the final and it’s up to the country to show our support.
“There is a big expectation but let’s get some positivity about the national side again.”