Aitchison talks Rodgers, Celtic and Scotland

Twelve months ago Scotland's Jack Aitchison scored seconds into his Celtic debut – he sat down with UEFA.com to discuss "one of the best days of my life", Brendan Rodgers and U17 EURO.

Jack Aitchison will lead Scotland out against France on Tuesday
Jack Aitchison will lead Scotland out against France on Tuesday ©Sportsfile

If there is such a thing as a UEFA European Under-17 Championship veteran then Jack Aitchison certainly qualifies as one.

Only Abel Ruiz – part of the Spain squad in Croatia – and Toni Kroos have accrued more appearances, 20, in the competition's history than the 19 made by the Scotland captain.

This tournament is the forward's third U17 EURO finals. Soon after returning from last season's edition in Azerbaijan, Aitchison rewrote the Celtic record books when he struck a matter of seconds into his senior debut, becoming the Glasgow club's youngest ever scorer at 16 years and 71 days.

Ahead of Scotland's last Group B fixture against France, from which Scot Gemmill's side require a point to reach the knockout stage, Aitchison discussed "one of the best days of my life", the Brendan Rodgers effect at Celtic and why he leans on Kolo Touré.

On being involved in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals over the last three seasons ...

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The first time I was here [in Bulgaria] I didn't play too much; it was more for experience as I was only 15. Last year I played quite a lot and this is now my age group and I've played every minute. It makes you grow up quicker and mature. You face top-class players so you need to outsmart them. You need to think quicker and be strong.

On going from the 2016 U17 EURO finals to scoring against Motherwell on his Celtic debut four days later ...

As soon as I returned, I trained with the first team for a couple of days. I didn't think much of it – I thought they must be short of players. Then the night before the game I was pulled into the hotel and told I would get some minutes. I had to prepare for that, but it was one of the best days of my life so far and I'd love to relive it.

I didn't know what to think. I know a lot of the photographers at the side of the pitch and they were joking that if I scored I should run over to them. It actually happened and to this day it's still hard to believe that I scored with my first touch. It was brilliant.

On Brendan Rodgers ...

Defender Kolo Touré and manager Brendan Rodgers
Defender Kolo Touré and manager Brendan Rodgers©Getty Images

He's always happy, smiling and talking to me about how to improve. He helped Raheem Sterling along [when he was at Liverpool] so if I keep going with him hopefully that's what I can do and become a top player. He tells me to express myself, believe in myself and that if I work hard the opportunities will come. That has happened since he's been manager so I'd like to thank him for that.

On who he turns to for advice in the Celtic dressing room ...

I talk to Kolo Touré a lot. He doesn't play much, but he's a big character in the squad. He's played with Thierry Henry and Robert Pirès so he tells me what he used to talk to them about. I try to soak it all in and perform on the training pitch.

On his UEFA Youth League memories ...

I've really enjoyed it. I scored on one of my first Youth League appearances, against Valencia at Celtic Park [in February 2016]. It was good to do that, but the thing that sticks out most is scoring home and away against Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world.

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