Billy Gilmour "wanted to be the best" ballet dancer before shining for Scotland

Scotland fans are expecting big things from midfielder Billy Gilmour after he was named Man of the Match for his showing in the 0-0 draw against England at Euro 2020.

Steve Clarke couldn’t have asked for much more out of the Chelsea anchor after he made matters uncomfortable for the Three Lions in a 76-minute display, gliding tirelessly around the Wembley turf.

It was a performance in-keeping with Gilmour’s relentlessly competitive nature, an attitude that dates back to his days as an under-12 prospect with Rangers in 2012.

It was at that time Gilmour caught the eye of a scout for the Scottish FA's Performance Schools, an initiative that provides ‘individual-focused training’ for the nation’s best young talents.

And coach Andy Goldie told BBC Sport Gilmour maintained that motivation to be the best when players were told to attend an eight-week course in ballet: “He wanted to be the best at it.

”He wasn't concerned about what other people thought. The dance teacher thought he was absolutely fantastic."

While some team-mates were embarrassed to attempt so much as a pirouette, Gilmour saw the sessions as an opportunity to expand his horizons and train in a manner to which he was less accustomed.

The 20-year-old’s emergence as a Premier League star of the future can’t be entirely attributed to those days spent in the studio, but it is indicative of his indefatigable attitude towards improvement.

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Goldie—who was a Performance Schools coach when he recruited Gilmour but is now academy director at Dundee United—added: "He stood out like a sore thumb.

“Not just in his ability, but his desire win, to compete, his willingness to take the ball under pressure. He was like a young captain. He had a real presence about him despite his slight frame. My eyes were drawn to him.”

Rangers were unable to keep hold of their academy gem, who joined Chelsea’s youth set-up in 2017 and has since made 22 first-team appearances for the reigning kings of Europe.

Gilmour made his senior Scotland debut in a friendly draw against the Netherlands in early June, earning his maiden international start and first competitive cap in Friday’s 0-0 stalemate with England.

The player has since been disappointed to learn he won’t feature in Scotland’s final Group D fixture against Croatia on Tuesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gilmour will now be forced to isolate for 10 days before he can have a chance to rejoin the squad, who will be hard-pressed to replace his fleet footwork and tenacity in the middle of the park.

He’s not the only athlete who has used dance as a means to elevate performance levels in a completely different craft.

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Vasyl Lomachenko, a former three-weight world boxing champion, was made to undertake traditional Ukrainian dancing lessons as a child to improve his footwork.

Gilmour—voted Chelsea’s Academy Player of the Year in 2020—is already a Champions League winner after two seasons as a professional, but that promises to be only the beginning of his top-flight exploits.

Scotland are hoping to advance at Euro 2020 so that he’ll have another chance to put his skills to good use this summer, having honed his talents by any means necessary in a bid to beat the best.

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