When Scotland National Team Manager, Gordon Strachan announced his twenty-eight man squad to face Nigeria later this month at Craven Cottage, there were many lamenting the fact that another English-born player was picked to represent the country ahead of a Scottish-born individual.
Derby County forward Chris Martin has already played for England Under-19s – scoring twice – and will follow in the footsteps of a plethora of other non-Scottish born players to pull on the dark blue jersey.
The issue of non-nationals representing Scotland goes all the way back to the late 19th century, when both Henry Renny-Tailyour (India) and Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird (England) both represented the Scottish national football team in it’s early guises. Since then, the list of those to have played for this country despite their birth on foreign land is a lengthy one and includes countries such as Malaysia, Sweden and Canada.
For the players, it allows them the opportunity to play international football if the opportunity is not there for them at ‘home’. For Scotland, it widens the talent pool, giving the manager far more depth of choice when selecting his squad. Some will argue that it is the antitheses of international football, that those who represent their country should be doing exactly that; representing THEIR country, not one that has given them the opportunity by circumstance or a loophole.
However, is Scotland in a position to turn away talent? If it is within the rules of the game that FIFA set out, then why not take advantage; in the same way that Portugal did with Deco or that Italy did with Giuseppe Rossi? You might not like it, but that is the way in which international football is currently governed and Scotland would be foolish to miss out on the opportunity to strengthen their hand with the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers. Especially if that talent is 25 goal Chris Martin. In fact, if the national team had ignored such a selection process then Scotland would have missed out on talents such as Kris Commons, Jordan Rhodes, Shaun Maloney, Richard Gough, James Morrison, Steven Fletcher, Andy Goram and…erm….Scott Dobie…
Like or not, non-nationals representing Scotland is something that is here to stay. The way the national team has been performing for the last decade, the SFA should make the absolute most of this opportunity!