Few people from Ayrshire can claim to be a national hero, but Prestwick-bred James Forrest has a very strong argument after his gallant performances for the Scotland national team.

Forrest drove Scotland into promotion in the UEFA Nations League with his five goals in two must-win fixtures against Albania and Israel.

And he has quickly surpassed Ayrshire legend Bobby Lennox’s three international goals who recently had a statue unveiled of him in Saltcoats.

Much to his modesty, Forrest is just happy to be playing and won’t look too far ahead.

He told reporter Matt Bryan: “It’s obviously good. With football you just take it as it comes. You can’t think too far in front. He was a top player and from Ayrshire as well, so it gives everyone a boost from down there."

Forrest was nine-years-old when he was snapped up by Celtic, but prior to this he played for South Ayr Boys Club where even then he was no stranger to the scoresheet.

He added: “I think when you’re younger, everyone wants to be in a forward position. I was about seven when I played for South Ayr and signed for Celtic when I was nine.

“I played a similar position back then as I do now. I always want to contribute goals whatever position I play so it’s good to score and help the team.”

Now 27, Forrest is in the form of his life and becoming one of the most decorated Scottish footballers of his time with 15 major honours won so far.

Admittedly, he has a way to go to be considered the next Ayrshire footballer to be cast in bronze, but another 10 trophies in a dominant Celtic side would match Lennox’s count of silverware at least.

Forrest said: “Playing for Celtic, playing big games in Europe, in finals, semi-finals, and the national team, it’s all been class.

"The two games there were definitely my two best nights for Scotland and I want to get more nights like that."

Forrest still keeps in touch with the local area and looks out for Ayr United’s score every week where his younger brother Alan plays.

Troon Times: FORREST FIRES: Alan Forrest wins a challenge for Ayr United.

They currently sit top of the Scottish Championship and Forrest welcomed the prospect of coming up against his brother next year. He said: “It’s good to know you can come from anywhere and do well and I think that will give folk a boost and let them think what they can do and achieve similar as well.

“Ayr are doing well. I think everyone down the road is hoping they can keep going and it would be really good if they could go up again.”

As Prestwick’s biggest star, Forrest is focussed on producing more of the goods and being an example to the area’s youth.

His advice was simple: “The main thing is just to enjoy playing. Work hard and you’ll do well.”

The winger didn’t rule out helping youth football in the future. He said: “Playing with Celtic and Scotland you have a lot of games, it would be hard the now, but you never know.

“I used to always say no when I was younger but then I think you’re in football and you love it, so it might be something you look to do in the future when you get older.”

Looking on, Forrest will undoubtedly have a heaver weight on his shoulders as the nation depends on his talismanic prowess to take Scotland one step further and into the promised land of a major tournament - a place almost a generation of Scots are too young to remember.

But in this rich vein of form, and Scotland sitting pretty, Forrest has a big role in the nation's efforts.