Scotland are motivated by the feeling they did not do themselves justice at the last European Championship, says central defender Liam Cooper.
At Covid-delayed Euro 2020, Steve Clarke’s side went out at the group stage with one point from three games.
Scotland, who had not featured in the championship since 1996 prior to 2020, have booked their place in Germany next summer with two qualifiers to spare.
“We’ve got a lot to prove,” said the 32-year-old Leeds United captain.
“As professionals, we put that expectation on ourselves immediately after the last Euros.
“It was a lot of the lads’ first taste of major football, including myself. Straight after that, we agreed among ourselves, in private conversations I’ve had, that we didn’t really do ourselves justice.
“So we’ve got to prove to a lot of people, including ourselves, that we belong there and that we can get through the group stage.”
No Scotland team has progressed beyond the group stage at a European Championship or World Cup.
But the signs are promising that Clarke’s side could break that barrier, with a run of five successive qualifying victories in Group A before a narrow first defeat in Spain last month.
Scotland conclude the campaign in Georgia on Thursday and at home to Norway on Sunday.
“With that success, comes expectation and we need to ride that wave,” added Cooper.
“I think there’s going to be a certain expectation on us to win more games now and we’ve got to embrace that.
“We’re confident in our abilities, we’re backed by amazing staff, amazing people behind the scenes. We don’t go short of anything.
“We’ve got to repay them by continuing this run and keeping that belief, keeping our fans happy as well, keeping them proud.”
Cooper is quick to credit the influence of Clarke and the culture the head coach has created at national level.
“Success always helps,” he said. “We’ve had that taste of a major competition and winning matches is an amazing feeling and always brings a group together. That breeds confidence and makes things a lot easier.
“Also, the way the manager has made the environment like a club mentality. The way we train, the training ground we have. If there are ever any issues, or if the lads ever need anything, it’s sorted there and then.”
The draw for the tournament’s groups takes place in Hamburg on 2 December and Cooper is anxious to know where the squad will be based.
“The families and friends can all start getting booked up,” he explained. “It’s been a bit of a nightmare not knowing.
“Every person I’ve spoken to has booked about 20 hotels on free cancellation!
“Once all that’s sorted, then you can really start to look forward to it. We’re professionals, we understand there’s a lot of football to be played at club and international level before then, so there will be no getting too carried away.”