Profile: Chris Paterson

ANOTHER match, another record. Chris Paterson, the man with the metronomic right boot, was at it again yesterday despite injury cutting his appearance short, breaking records and scoring points as he became the first rugby player to win 100 caps for Scotland.

Paterson's impact since he made his debut at Murrayfield, in October 1999, against Spain, has been so remarkable that he now holds virtually every record in the game. He is Scotland's most capped player, record points-scorer and scorer of the most points in a Six Nations match. The only major records that elude him are that of Scotland's top try-scorer and of longest Test career, and if he plays on for another year he will probably break both of them. Such is his longevity that an appearance in the 2011 World Cup, will make him only the second player to have played in four.

Yet for all the records, it is Paterson's phenomenal goal-kicking which marks him out. His 36 consecutive successful kicks at goal for Scotland between August 2007 and June 2008 – he didn't miss during the 2007 World Cup or 2008 Six Nations – is a record that won't be broken any time soon. All the more remarkable is that Paterson didn't start kicking regularly for Scotland until 2002, four years into his international career. Nor has he had the luxury of playing for a Scotland side which has scored freely: his Scotland has a win record of less than 40 per cent.

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Paterson insists, however, that he's not driven on by records or points, but by a fear of failure. "I like setting goals and I've been fortunate enough to break several records already," he says, "but it's funny, it's not what I expected because when I broke those records all I could think about was pushing on.

"It doesn't make me more content, it just makes me want more – the fact that I've got 100 caps doesn't matter because it's just a number, I want as much as I possibly can so that when I've stopped playing that I can be content with what I've achieved. That's what drives me on. The important thing is to be able to look back and really know, deep down, that you couldn't have done any more."

Not that Paterson would broadcast any disappointment he felt anyway. As far as the outside world is concerned, the former Scotland captain is a closed book. Friends say that it is no coincidence that his private life remains exactly that: private. Paterson's lack of ego is as profound as his desperation to avoid the limelight, and if he is proud to have hit the 100-cap mark, then he won't be enjoying the attention that comes with it.

If rugby was in Paterson's environment and genes – he was taught by Rob Moffat and followed in Gregor Townsend's footsteps, while both his brother and father played for Gala and his uncle Dunc won ten Scotland caps – his temperament was undoubtedly forged by his Borders upbringing and by his family.

The Borders is still a bastion of propriety, where boastfulness remains a sin and the tall poppy syndrome flourishes, while his family upbringing has made him into one of life's more thoughtful characters. The Patersons are very close, with Chris living at home until well into his professional rugby career. His parents are at every one of his games, home and away, not that you'd know it because the Patersons are a quiet, down-to-earth family. It's virtually impossible to imagine his mother Lynn jumping up and down in the stands like the mother of England's Underwood brothers used to do.

Still, Paterson isn't backwards at coming forwards when needs must. He was particularly vocal behind the scenes during the Carruthers brothers' troubled tenure as owners of Edinburgh Rugby. Nor is he easily brow-beaten, as Jim Telfer found when he tried to get him to move to the Borders, only for the ever-focused Paterson to turn him down because he thought he was more likely to win trophies at Edinburgh. Friends say he gets this hugely competitive nature and streak of inner steel from his mother.

If fellow players look up to him for his work ethic, professionalism and leadership, he also has an ability to connect with those younger than him. When he was training to be a teacher at Moray House (he gave up at Edinburgh's behest to become a professional rugby player), schools commented on his ability to have whole classes transfixed. Quitting on his teaching career never sat well with him and, even now, a return to teaching after he stops playing would come as no surprise to his wife Claire, the marketing executive he married in 2008.

A relatively tiny 12st 8lbs, Paterson has succeeded through sheer bloody- mindedness. Moffat saw how, as a schoolboy, "if there was no practice, Chris would just go out there and kick a ball around on his own", and knows how he has carried that inner drive into his rugby life. Now a fitness fanatic and tee-totaller ("I've never touched a drop; there's no reason, I just don't fancy it"), Paterson's only major injury was a Samoan-administered compressed multiple fracture of the right cheekbone in 2004 which required surgery.

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Paterson has benefited from the odd slice of luck, however, most notably when he got to work with Mick "The Kick" Byrne, the 6ft 6in Aussie Rules ruckman hired as a specialist kicking coach by the Scottish Rugby Union. A talented golfer, Paterson took to the challenge with a diligence that would shame Tiger Woods, spending hours refining the distinctive arm-aloft technique which has proved so effective.

Not everyone is impressed, though. If the rest of the world sees him as a phenomenal goal-kicker, in the Borders he is more often viewed as a missed opportunity, as the best stand-off Scotland never had.

When he was playing as an 18-year-old stand-off with Gala, he was a revelation, and when the Maroons beat Kelso at Murrayfield to lift the cup in 1999, it was Paterson who ran the show virtually single-handed. Yet this instinctive player with good game-awareness and a coruscating turn of pace was never given the chance to cement a place at stand-off, a position at which Scotland struggle. Even now he regularly finishes Scotland games in the number ten position.

That, however, is not the former Scotland captain's only disappointment. As well as being consistently overlooked for the British and Irish Lions, his move to Gloucester in 2007 ended with him moving back to Edinburgh.

Not that the Edinburgh and Scotland man will see it like that. Asked recently if he has any regrets, he answered simply: "None, but then I tend not to have regrets because I'm always looking ahead, thinking that the best is yet to come."

If it is, then it will be quite some future.

• Paterson is universally known by the nickname "Mossy", which is a reference to a television character from his youth.

• Paterson became the first Scottish player to appear in 50 Heineken Cup matches (44 for Edinburgh, six for Gloucester) when Edinburgh beat Castres in October 2008, which was the first time a Scottish team had won a Heineken game in France.

• As well as being a keen golfer, Paterson is a committed football fan. Despite going to the same school as John Collins, his allegiance lies with Rangers.

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• His 99 Test appearances so far have been won as follows: 45 on the wing, 31 at full back, 11 at stand-off, 11 as a replacement.

• In 2006, Paterson kicked five penalties from five attempts as Scotland beat England at Murrayfield.

• Paterson is part of The Winning Scotland Foundation, which is headed up by Gregor Townsend, and regularly goes to Scottish schools to encourage young talent.