Chris Martin happy to cut short his England career

THE accent is pure Suffolk and just seven years ago he was proudly wearing three lions on his white shirt as he got his first taste of international football.

Chris Martin is eager to impress if he is given the nod by Scotland manager Gordon Strachan. Picture: AFP/Getty
Chris Martin is eager to impress if he is given the nod by Scotland manager Gordon Strachan. Picture: AFP/Getty

But no-one should doubt Chris Martin’s commitment to the Scottish cause as he prepares to lead the attack against the country of his birth at Celtic Park tonight.

The Derby County striker qualifies for Gordon Strachan’s side through his father Gerry, who was born and raised in Easterhouse.

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When Martin was selected for duty with the England Under-19 squad back in 2007, as he began his career at Norwich City, he admits it led to mixed feelings for his old man. But the family will be united in a sense of undiluted pride if the 26-year-old, as is anticipated, replaces the injured Steven Fletcher against England.

Chris Martin is eager to impress if he is given the nod by Scotland manager Gordon Strachan. Picture: AFP/Getty

“When I played for England Under-19s, my dad was proud of the step I was taking in my career but probably a bit annoyed at the same time,” said Martin.

“I was advised differently back then as to what direction to go in. There was no representations made to me from Scotland when I played for England Under-19s. I wasn’t given the choice to pick between one or the other.

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“It was a case of England calling me up and it seemed the right thing to do at the time. But at senior level, I was given a different choice and I chose Scotland. I’m happy I’ve done that. I see myself as Scottish and I’m representing Scotland now and I want to do the best I possibly can for them.

“My dad is a very proud Scotsman and we were certainly aware of that when I was growing up. He was born in Easterhouse and lived there until he was 12 or 13 when the family moved to East Kilbride.

“The reason he moved to England was to look for work on the fishing boats and he met my mum down there when he was 18 or 19. He worked all over the place and finished up working at Lowestoft, close to where I was brought up in Beccles.

“He was a regular at Celtic Park when he lived up here. He told me stories of him getting lifted over the turnstiles by the adults when he was a little kid. He was going to games when Celtic were reaching European Cup finals so he was fortunate in being able to watch some of their greatest ever players and teams.

“He has seen a lot of big games at Celtic Park and hopefully this will be another one for him. I’ve got ten tickets for the game for him, my mum and the rest of the family. Some of them still stay in East Kilbride and I was able to get away for a few hours on Sunday to catch up with them all.

“I hope Tuesday night is going to mean a lot to my dad. He doesn’t often give me too much praise and he’ll probably tell me how he feels about it in a few months’ time. I’ve given him a couple of my Scotland shirts already and hopefully I can give him something to be proud of if I play against England.”

Martin has made four substitute appearances for Scotland so far, the latest in Friday night’s titanic Euro 2016 qualifier against Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park when he missed a premium chance to open his scoring account in dark blue.

“I’m aware what a goal against England would mean for my standing as a Scotland player,” added Martin. “I would rather have scored against Ireland, because it would have been more important in terms of our qualification, although we went on to win the game anyway which was the most important thing. But in terms of the fans and going down in history, then scoring against England would be pretty big.

“I’m really looking forward to it – assuming I’m able to get out there – because it’s a big game and we’re all on a high after what happened on Friday night. Hopefully, we can take that confidence and that spring in our step and turn it into another positive performance.

“The Ireland game was slightly different to what we had expected. It was tough, a bit of a battle at times and we had to stand up to them but the onus was on us as the home team and we had to try and come out and impress ourselves on the game.

“I think we did that as best we could. They worked very hard, which made it difficult for us, but we produced the one moment of real quality in the match with the goal. But if anybody deserved to win, it was us.

“I would have thought the tempo will be just as high against England because this is another derby. They’re a very good side and we’re expecting another tough night.

“Are we a better team than England? I’m not sure. I think we’re a good side. I’ve been here enough times now to know the quality we have in the squad. We are capable of beating just about anybody on our day. But we know that England are a very good side as well, with some excellent, world-class players. It will be a very tough game but hopefully this will go some way to seeing who is the better team.

“England are ranked slightly higher than we are so they are probably favourites heading into the game. But we’re on a very good run of form and we’ve got a lot of confidence. That’s what we’ll take into the game. We know that when we play well, we are a match for just about any team.

“We have to concentrate on our own performance and not worry about the other team. We have done that very well in the time I have been here, and before. We have done our own jobs on the pitch and that has translated into good results.”

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