KRIS COMMONS ended an outstanding individual season for Celtic yesterday on a Hampden pitch upon which he has decided he will no longer be appearing in the dark blue of Scotland.
The 29-year-old’s decision to retire from international football caused something of a storm in the build-up to the Scottish Cup final, attracting criticism from SFA Performance Director Mark Wotte.
But Commons is convinced he is stepping down from Gordon Strachan’s squad for the right reason as he looks to limit the number of professional commitments which involve him spending time away from his young family.
Speaking after helping Celtic complete the domestic double with their 3-0 win over Hibs, he explained that it was his enforced withdrawal from the Scotland squad for the trip to Serbia in March which caused him to question his international future.
“The doubts began at that time,” he said. “After the Wales game at Hampden, we were due to go to Serbia. I was away in the hotel with Scotland while my little boy (Jax) was in hospital.
“It really sunk in then that my partner Lisa was on her own in Glasgow. So I had to come away from the squad because I’m a dad and I need to put my family first. So I’d been thinking about the Scotland thing for weeks and weeks. Neil (Lennon) knew my feelings on the matter.
“I don’t want to take any risks. I’ve got three kids under three years old and I miss them enough just playing for Celtic on the European stage and staying in hotels once or twice a week.
“So it’s vital that I spend as much time with my family as possible. I called Gordon Strachan to tell him and we had a good conversation. He has a clear direction to take Scotland in and he was disappointed that he had to take the call but we ended on good terms and there may be a chance of me returning.
“Gordon mentioned that by the time his kids were nine, ten and 11 they were pretty much taking care of themselves whereas mine are running riot and pulling wallpaper off the walls.
“This is an important time for me, as a father, to be around my kids as they are growing up. I think it’s the best time to be with them. It’s not all about my kids, it’s about Lisa as well. She’s with the kids Monday to Friday while I’m away Friday nights and, in Europe, sometimes Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well.
“When you’re involved with internationals it can take you away for ten days and I need to be at home to help with the kids, to bring them up and raise them right. It was solely my decision. Lisa doesn’t get involved in my career but she backed me on this one. Mark Wotte’s reaction? I’d rather not get into that.”
Commons will now go on holiday with his family, rather than his season being extended for another fortnight by Scotland’s World Cup qualifier in Croatia on 7 June. He was thrilled to finish off the campaign with more silverware from a match Celtic won comfortably after an early scare when Eoin Doyle’s close-range header was saved by Fraser Forster.
“We’ve ended this season in a good frame of mind,” said Commons. “It was nice to finish on a high and give the fans something to cheer about. The conditions were ideal. The pitch had just been watered and I don’t think I’ve ever played on such a good surface.
“Hibs started well, to be fair, and put us on the back foot. When I saw [Eoin Doyle’s] header, it was bread-and-butter for big Fraser. You’ve got to put it right in the corner to beat him so it was a relatively straightforward save. Hibs have some good players but it’s going to take something special to get past the big man.
“It’s brilliant to have won the double. It’s a good thing to have on your CV. It was the main aim for us so it feels like mission accomplished.
“We didn’t feel under pressure, although there was a certain nervousness. But we didn’t go out there hoping we would win, we were confident that we would do it.
“The only pressure is the kind you put on yourself because you want to do well and to perform well. You try and treat big games like any other match but it’s hard to do that when you walk out and there are fireworks going off.
“I think that we were good from back to front and we won quite comfortably in the end. Now we only need a treble and a place in the last eight of the Champions League to top this season!”