STEPHEN O’Donnell had his shorts pulled down by an irate Albanian player on Thursday night but otherwise he had absolutely nothing to feel embarrassed about on his competitive debut for his country. The Kilmarnock full-back was hardly the most obvious choice when it came to the right-wing back role in Alex McLeish’s system but he earned pass marks and then some during the 2-0 win which got our Nations League campaign off and running and still got out the other end with his modesty intact. Asked if he felt like he now felt he was here to stay as an international player, it was refreshing to hear the 26-year-old say that he wouldn’t be counting any chickens until he was into double figures for caps. “I was told when I was younger 50 games for your club and you are a first team footballer,” he said, “so maybe if I can get to ten caps then I will definitely belong here.”

Much is made of Andy Robertson’s personal narrative, the arc of which took him from being released from Celtic as a teenager, via Queen’s Park to the Champions League final at Liverpool. But O’Donnell was correct to point out that he is far from the only member of this Scotland squad with such hinterland.

Previously a Celtic youth team captain, O’Donnell soon found himself released along with pretty much the entirety of his team. It was only when he turned up at Championship challengers Partick Thistle in 2011 and fell under the spell of Jackie McNamara that his fortunes started to pick up. After a couple of years at Luton, a generous share of the credit also belongs to Steve Clarke, another former Scotland full back, for bringing about the consistency which has taken him to the next level. Had Kilmarnock not been performing so creditably, it seems unlikely that O’Donnell would have got his opportunity.

“You look at everyone’s story,” said O’Donnell. “Obviously with Andy being captain, it is an incredible feat for him personally, he has worked so hard to be there. But don’t forget that everyone in that squad has got their own story. Callum Paterson did his knee but got a move, Kieran Tierney came through at Celtic, something I wasn’t able to do, Callum McGregor too, so nobody’s story is easy. Obviously Andy’s is pretty spectacular but to make it in football there is lots of scrutiny over you, lots of criticism and you just need to hope for the rub of the green. Hopefully in the summer I managed to get that.

“I have learned a lot under Steve Clarke and Jackie McNamara, who always believed in me and told me that I was capable of playing at this level. It was maybe something I didn’t always believe myself but the last couple of games I have played and enjoyed it, and hopefully I will get more chances in the future.

“What did I think when Jackie told me that? I thought he had lost his marbles. That was when I was 19 and just released from Celtic. I’m not too sure if I believed him. But it is something he always says to me, that he thinks I am better than I have been doing. Then Steve Clarke started believing in me at club level, and organising us in a way that got us victories and got us moving up the table. It drew more attention to Kilmarnock, who have maybe been a team who have been overlooked in the past. If I am doing alright for my country, there might be opportunities for others.”

Apart from his height and his athleticism – “I don’t think I’ve ever won as many headers in my career so I was quite pleased,” says O’Donnell - the other thing that stood in his favour was his attendance for the summer tour to Peru and Mexico, where he played both matches as an orthodox right back. “If I hadn’t gone there wouldn’t be a chance I would be here now,” said O’Donnell. “But I was surprised to play [on Monday], I was shocked. I thought if anything if he had flattened off to a four I might have had half a chance. But a five, I couldn’t believe it. Thankfully for myself, I was part of a winning team. I did okay, I worked hard, we got a clean sheet and played a couple of good balls and a couple of slack ones too. So I have plenty to improve on personally.”

O’Donnell takes issue with the assertion that the right flank is a problem area for Scotland. Callum Paterson, James Forrest, Ryan Fraser, who can all operate on that right side,” he said. “Are you telling me they are not good players, they can’t fill in Alan Hutton’s shoes? Of course they can.”

Whatever else he did on Monday night, he seemed to get Albanian blood boiling, walking off with a few bumps and bruises for his trouble. “I think I might get smashed if I am over there!” he says. “I might try to miss that one!”