DON’T mention the Germans. This is Gordon Greer’s attitude as he prepares for Scotland’s epic three days. The world champions at Hampden on Monday could be a world away for all of the Brighton defender’s attention is on the first of the double-header in Tbilisi.
“We are focused on what is in front of us which is the Georgia game – we haven’t spoken about Germany,” said Greer. “Each game which comes along is massive and that’s the next one. It’s exciting times.”
The former Kilmarnock player has eight caps, having won his first at the age of 32 – the oldest debutant since Ronnie Simpson. He talks of his pride at pulling on the dark blue, his big chance having come late.
“I was surprised when I was called up,” he said. “I thought when I moved to England, that was my opportunity gone. Thankfully for me, Brighton did well to get into the Championship and played really well there. Because of that I came into the thoughts of the national manager and I’m honoured to be part of the squad. I love coming away with the lads and we all get on really well, there’s a good team spirit.”
Greer is captain of Brighton who have made a great start to the campaign and sit top of the Championship after five games. Life is good on both fronts and he wants it to continue that way. He looks at the career of someone like David Weir and just thinks: respect. “The way I feel, I want to keep going as long as I can. I’m fit and healthy so there’s no reason why I can’t. As a centre-back you come across lots of things, you get more experienced,” he added.
Greer is delighted to be involved in the Scotland set-up but desperate to make Friday’s team. “I’m keen to play. I’ll train as hard as I can and as well as I can and it’s up to the manager at the end of the day,” he said. “You have to respect his decision as to who he picks and we’ll all give our support if we’re selected or not.”
Greer probably faces a fight with Grant Hanley for the berth next to Russell Martin – maybe even Charlie Mulgrew, too. “I’ve played with both Grant and Russell,” he said. “We train together and when you get the opportunity to play together it’s great. The lads are good players, as are Charlie and Christophe [Berra].”
Greer made his first competitive start in the stirring 2-2 draw with Poland in Warsaw and also played a part in the 6-1 rout of Gibraltar. Having watched the 1-0 home win over Georgia from the bench, what does he think of Friday’s opponents? “We were unlucky not to be further ahead at half-time in that game but in the second half, although we played some great stuff, there were a couple of wee moments when they showed they are no mugs,” he said.
“We got the result we wanted that night but it will be tough on Friday as they have some good players. Sometimes you’re expected to go to a place and turn a team over but it’s not as easy as that. Look at my club in the Carling Cup. Brighton went to Walsall and were expected to win but we lost.
“It’s 11 versus 11 and the other team can be up for it. We played the World Cup winners just after they were crowned champions and when you look back at that game, we might have got something from it.
“It’s never easy to win football matches but we’re a good side and we’ll be doing everything we can to get the right result. It’s up to us to go to Tbilisi and play our way. Hopefully that will be enough.”
Greer was recently joined at Brighton by Jack Harper, the Scotland Under-19 international who was signed from Real Madrid. “He’s a good lad,” said Greer. “He’s been injured since so I haven’t actually seen him play but he comes with a high pedigree and will hopefully do well for us. We’ve spoken about Scotland and he sees himself playing for the international team one day as well.”
That’s the future; the here and now are these two vital games. Scotland view both as winnable and will be preparing accordingly.
“We do that for every match and it’s important we do,” added Greer. “We go in, train well and look to win.”