Lyndon Dykes admits he will cherish Scotland’s Belgrade party for the rest of his life.
The Gold Coast-born striker played a key role to end 22 years of hurt with qualification for Euro 2020 – yet he only nailed his colours to the tartan mast back in August.
The former Australia schoolboy international was left with a major decision as he toyed with the dilemma of representing the land of his birth against pulling on a dark blue jersey in tribute to his Dumfriesshire parents.
But it was Scotland boss Steve Clarke who was left smiling as the QPR striker opted to turn out for his side.
From that point Dykes wasted little time establishing himself as the perfect man to spearhead Clarke’s attack, netting two goals in his first five games while his all-action performance in Thursday night’s play-off showdown with Serbia ensured the Scots dominated the hosts for the 83 minutes before he was replaced.
The former Livingston frontman was forced to watch through the cracks in his fingers as Luka Jovic snatched a late equaliser to send the game into extra-time.
David Marshall’s crucial save from Aleksandar Mitrovic in the shoot-out got the celebrations started, however, and Dykes admits he will not be forgetting a special night in a hurry.
The 25-year-old said in a Scottish Football Association interview: “It’s a special moment, one of the best in my career and I’m always going to remember it. I can’t get rid of this smile.
“It’s amazing. Obviously this is what I dreamt to do when I came to Scotland and now we’re here, now we’ve done it so I’m actually buzzing.
“We made it hard for ourselves. Obviously I’d been subbed off at the time but I was just so nervous, just hoping we’d go through.
“But big Marshy pulled off the save at the end and the boys’ penalties were the same as last time (against Israel in the play-off semi-final).
“I thought that from the get-go we played well. Like I said when I first came here, I want to win games and get Scotland back to where it was and now we’ve done it, so I guess it’s on to the Euros. We have to do well at the Euros now.”
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