Berti Vogts has revealed he once approached a teenage Wayne Rooney about playing for Scotland.
Vogts, who was in charge of Scotland from 2002 to 2004, said he was made aware of a potential family link when Rooney was a highly-rated 16-year-old with Everton.
His prodigious talent and fierce loyalty, even at that tender age, meant he was never likely to accept the audacious invitation, but Vogts was compelled to make the call.
As it was Rooney made his England debut in February 2003, still aged just 17, and went on to become a star of the Barclays Premier League.
“I spoke to Wayne Rooney - his grandmother, she is Scottish,” said Vogts, speaking in Baku ahead of his Azerbaijan side’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland.
“The Scottish Football Association found the grandmother and I made the call. I flew from Glasgow to Everton. He was playing under David Moyes at Everton and I spoke to him - a young lad of 16 years of age. I said to him ‘you can play for Scotland’.”
Explaining Rooney’s reaction, the German coach beat his chest theatrically and said: “(Rooney told me) ‘I am English, I am
English!’. Okay, sorry.
“You have to speak to the player but he told me ‘I’m so sorry boss, I’m English’.”
The Scottish Football Association did not wish to add to Vogts’ comments regarding Rooney when contacted this morning.
Vogts made the revelation when asked about the issue of national eligibility, which has made headlines recently due to the emergence of another hot young talent - Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj.
He is wanted by several teams - including Belgium, Serbia, Albania, Turkey and potentially England. Januzaj could only represent England on residency grounds rather than the blood link which Vogts hoped to use in the Rooney case.
There is already debate brewing as to the rights or wrongs of that, but Vogts sees no problem.
“It’s a FIFA rule. We have to accept it. It is not only in Great Britain but also here in Azerbaijan,” he said.