No problem with Scottish players’ diets - Wotte

SFA performance director Mark Wotte has insisted there are no problems with the diets of Scottish footballers, claiming it only becomes an issue for teams who suffer poor results.

Mark Wotte, right, and SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan yesterday. Picture: SNS
Mark Wotte, right, and SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan yesterday. Picture: SNS

Celtic manager Ronny Deila has caused a stir in recent weeks by questioning the fitness and nutritional discipline of players.

It carried echoes of comments made by Wotte two years ago when the Dutchman, then just 12 months into his SFA role, famously blamed “burgers and Buckfast” for declining standards in Scottish football.

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“For me, that was a general statement of what is acceptable in a country,” said Wotte yesterday.

“Then I also said the pro-youth boys are very well educated and it’s not really an issue. It is only a subject when results go the wrong way. If you play very well and win games, no-one is bothered. You can be a good player or a very good player. A very good player looks after his body very well. Darren Fletcher is a prime example of a role model. He does everything right.

“I’ve seen young kids with the same mindset and attitude as him, so I don’t think it’s an issue in Scotland that all the players don’t know how to live or feed themselves. It’s just an over reaction to a statement, like it was when I did it two years ago.

“A lot of club academies are educating the players very well and they are being taught how to live as an athlete or prepare themselves for games and deal with the physical demands.

“I travel with a lot of national youth teams and their attitude has been magnificent. They are putting a shift in in training, never give up and eat the proper food because we give them the food. There are a lot of young kids emerging and my experience when they are with us at national youth team level is they are excellent with their attitude and lifestyle and their composure and awareness in what it takes to become a really good player.”

Wotte, who was speaking at an all-day festival for the SFA’s performance school pupils at the Toryglen Regional Football Centre, is pleased to see the current progress of younger players being drafted into Gordon Strachan’s senior Scotland squad.

He believes one of them, Sheffield Wednesday striker Stevie May, could be poised to follow a similar career path to former Liverpool and Dutch international forward Dirk Kuyt.

“We capped Stevie for the under-21s a couple of years ago when he was on loan at Hamilton from St Johnstone and he struggled a little bit,” said Wotte.

“But he is a late developer. He scored some fantastic goals for the under-21s against Georgia, he scored goals in Scotland for St Johnstone and now he’s in the English Championship.

“I see a little bit of similarity between Stevie and Dirk Kuyt. Dirk was 18, came from a non-league club to FC Utrecht where I was manager. He moved to Feyenoord, on to Liverpool, played in a Champions League final and a World Cup final. The development of Stevie May is also very unpredictable. He’s making steps nobody expected him to take two years ago. So he’s surprising us all the time. Nobody knows where his ceiling is. I cannot tell you where the development of Stevie May will end because when I was working with Dirk at 19 I couldn’t predict that he was going all the way.

“The good thing about Stevie is he’s a very specific player, he’s got strength and energy and scoring ability. It’s just about whether he can adapt to the next level every time. That’s the big question.

“He’s a lovely boy and I wish him all the best. I’m delighted for him he’s getting the chance to challenge himself in the Scotland A squad.”