SCOTTISH footballers have declared their support for a No vote in the independence referendum.
Sixteen players from all eras of the game have signed up to a joint statement calling on “every patriotic Scot to help maintain Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom which has served Scotland so well”.
The squad, which includes Lisbon lion Bertie Auld alongside former Rangers players Barry Ferguson and Ally McCoist, is “managed” by former Old Firm managers Walter Smith (Rangers) and Billy McNeill (Celtic).
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Anas Sarwar said: “These men have played for the national team, have led Scotland and are now saying what they believe is best for Scotland.
“This shows that there is no shortage of passion and patriotism from those that are voting No.”
The full line-up includes Alex McLeish, Jim Leighton, David Moyes, Alan Hansen, Willie Miller, Paddy Crerand, Davie Provan, Barry Ferguson, Bertie Auld, Denis Law, Ally McCoist, Derek Johnstone, Murdo MacLeod, Ian Durrant, John Brown and Frank McAvennie.
The players’ statement says: “We are proud Scots who have been proud to represent our country around the world. When Scotland calls, we answer.
“We are proud that Scotland has always stood on its own two feet but we also believe that Scotland stands taller because we are part of the United Kingdom.
“We urge every patriotic Scot to help maintain Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom which has served Scotland so well.”
The statement has been released as Scotland prepares to open its Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against world champions Germany on Sunday.
Speaking at an event to launch the statement in Glasgow, football commentator and Better Together supporter Archie Macpherson called on the No side to inject more heart into its arguments during the final days of campaigning.
He said: “It has been a logical and rational presentation of facts on the currency, North Sea oil, pensions and so on, which are absolutely vital, but it has got to be backed up with conviction and passion.
“So it is not just reasoned arguments - you have got to reach out and communicate with people.”
Mr Macpherson, who recently spoke out for the union at a rally in Dundee, added: “All these figures played with passion - people on the terracing responded with passion, passion was at the core of football in Scotland, and it was only passion that kept us going against bigotry.
“And they are backing the last home stretch passionately and the people on the terracing will recognise that, and I am sure they will go with them.”
Mr Sarwar, who also attended the Soccer World event, said the support of the players was a recognition of the fact that the referendum “is not a vote on whether Scotland is a nation or not”.
“Scotland is a nation, it is a proud nation, as these players demonstrate,” he said.
“Those who are voting No in this referendum aren’t doing it from a position of thinking less about their country, they are doing it from a position of patriotism, passion and love for their country.”