Gordon Strachan’s apparent quest to entice Steven Caulker into swapping his international allegiance from England to Scotland could lead to the Cardiff City defender to becoming the latest in a long line of non-Scots born players to turn out for the national team. The pursuit of Caulker raises questions regarding the eligibility criteria set out by FIFA, and whether or not having non-Scots born players in the team devalues the national element of the side. Issues of national pride and identity are sure to be brought up and the fact that Caulker is English by birth may also leave a negative impression on the most ardent and passionate Scottish supporter. The many questions raised by non-nationals playing for other national sides is a debate for another time. This article simply aims to highlight the role that non-Scots born players have had on our national side.
– How Steven Caulker would look in a Scotland Jersey.
Being a small nation, but one with a fairly sizeable diaspora, it is only right that Scotland looks south of the border and beyond in search of eligible talent. Many other nations such as Ireland, France, and Germany to name but a few have consistently selected players born outside of their national confines for their respective national sides through the eligibility criteria set out by FIFA so, why should Scotland be any different? Well, we haven’t. In only the second ever International match to be played back in 1873, the English born Arthur Kinnaird, 11th Lord Kinnaird, turned out for Scotland. Thus, the tradition of non-Scots born players playing for Scotland was born and throughout the years since that momentous game a number of non-Scots have followed in his footsteps by playing for the national side with a varying degree of success.
The likes of Goram, Alexander, McCall, and Gough all played 40-plus times for Scotland under various managers, becoming mainstays of the national side. While the likes of Scot Dobie, Robbie Stockdale, and Jay McEviley failed to make any real sort of impact on the national side. That being said, there have been a number of Scots born players to have been given just a few caps before having their International careers ended; rightly in some cases.
The current national side already includes the likes of Russell Martin, James Morrison, Shaun Maloney, Steven Fletcher, and Jordan Rhodes, all of whom were born outside of Scotland although qualify through family heritage or by having been schooled in Scotland for 5 years. Under Gordon Strachan’s guidance a fully fit Scotland side that does not contain those players would be a very strange concept indeed, therefore highlighting the importance of non-Scots to our national side.
The notion of non-Scots born players pulling on that famous blue jersey may not please all fans however if we adopted that stance towards the national team then we would rob ourselves of great moments like celebrating Shaun Maloney’s wonderful late winner in Macedonia earlier this year that secured a rare away win. Likewise, we would not have had the likes of Gough or Goram there to deny opponents clear goals as they often did. Without non-Scots born players, our football history would be a lot different.
Should Steven Caulker decide that Scotland is where his International future lies then he should be welcomed into the squad with open arms. Unlike the Jay McEviley’s or Matt Elliott’s of this world, Caulker has proven himself already to be a top-class defender – his call up and inclusion from the start for England against Sweden being evidence of that. Since then however, his opportunities with England have been limited and he has failed to make the last few squads. Perhaps Scotland can capitalise on this and land themselves an international class defender from underneath the noses of the English.
A Scotland X1 of non-Scots born players.
- Andy Goram. 43 Caps, born in Bury.
- Graham Alexander. 40 Caps, born in Coventry.
- Danny Fox. 4 Caps, born in Winsford.
- Richard Gough. 61 caps, born in Stockholm.
- Russell Martin. 10 caps, born in Brighton.
- James Morrison. 29 caps, born in Darlington.
- Kris Commons. 12 caps, born in Mansfield.
- Shaun Maloney. 31 caps, born in Miri (Malaysia).
- Steven Fletcher. 13 caps, born in Shrewsbury.
- Jordan Rhodes. 11 caps, born in Oldham.
- Stuart McCall. 40 caps, born in Leeds.
Honourable mention to Don Hutchison (26 caps) who narrowly missed out on selection.