St Mirren legend Tony Fitzpatrick hopes the key contributions of former Buddies John McGinn and Kenny McLean for their country will inspire the next generation of the club’s academy stars.
The Ralston graduates played a major role in Scotland’s heroic late win against Norway last weekend – with both midfielders involved in the dramatic winner that put the Tartan Army firmly on course for Euro 2024 qualification.
Fitzpatrick watched on proudly as Aston Villa captain and national team hero McGinn helped set up Norwich City stalwart McLean to curl home a tremendous effort that sealed a vital 2-1 win in Oslo.
The pair were capped again in Tuesday night’s crucial 2-0 win against Georgia, with McGinn starting the match and McLean coming on as a late substitute.
Former Buddies boss and chief executive Fitzpatrick believes St Mirren’s identity is ingrained in the national side, who are also currently being led superbly in the dugout by ex-Saints defender Steve Clarke.
Fitzpatrick said: “The performances of players like McGinn and McLean for Scotland show that there is a pathway there.
“St Mirren have always had a good youth policy and it is something that the club have done really well, with Stephen Robinson really buying into that too at the club.
“It is easy for clubs to throw it away after a spell of not doing so well but the pathway is still there.
“That Norway game especially is a great example of what can be achieved at our club.
“If you do well for the side, you can go on and represent your country.
“To me that must give hope to many of the youngsters at the club right now that, if they put in the hard work, that’s what can be achieved.”
Scotland boss Clarke played for the Buddies from 1982 until 1987, making almost 200 appearances for the Paisley club. He scored seven goals for the Saints before moving to Chelsea to became a fans’ favourite in London.
Fitzpatrick believes Clarke was always destined for bigger things when he was at Love Street – with his inquisitive nature and strong work ethic setting him on a path to the top.
Fitzpatrick added: “He was a real student of the game, Stevie.
“He would stay late at training to practice, asking all the right questions on how to improve.
“He has taken that into management with him as he is always looking to improve.
“He has worked under some of the biggest names in the game and developed a real knack of assessing a team and knowing how to get the best out of them.
“He was a top boy to play with and was always one who you knew would go on to achieve great things within the game.”
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