Hearts' Callum Paterson: It's Scotland for me

Callum Paterson cannot wait to meet up with the Scotland squad this morning ahead of the games against Italy on '¨Sunday and France the following Saturday.

Hearts and Scoland full-back Callum Paterson and Scotland and Glasgow City's Leanne Ross show their support for the Tesco Bank Football Challenge National Festival. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

The only disappointment for the 21-year-old Hearts full-back, who is set to win his first full cap, is that Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon will not be present.

Manager Gordon Strachan decided to leave the bulk of the champions’ players out of his squad to give them some rest ahead of their Championship League qualifying ties in July. Yet the goalkeeper, quite unwittingly, was the person who did most to inspire Paterson to aim for the stars, by dint of graduating from Tynecastle Boys’ Club to the big time a decade before he did.

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“The gaffer [Robbie Neilson] played for Scotland but I liked Craig,” he said. “He came from my boys’ club and went to Hearts and then got a big move. He was one I looked up to. It was good to see people like that coming from nowhere. Craig came back to visit and present trophies and the club got money from his transfer to Sunderland.

“It helped us get new balls and kit, so it was great to have somebody like that around. We had Gary Mackay as a coach as well, who was also a Scotland internationalist.”

Paterson, pictured, it transpires, is eligible to represent four different countries, but made it clear that he is a committed Scot.

“That was just something on Twitter,” he said. “My grandparents are from there [South Africa] and my mum’s from Zimbabwe but I’m happy to play for Scotland.

“I never had any contact from the South African FA. I was born in London but I lived here all my life. I class myself as Scottish and that’s what I want to be.”

Paterson hailed Hibernian for finally winning the Scottish Cup, although he declined to discuss the unruly incidents which followed in the wake of that success.

“Obviously, we have a huge rivalry in Edinburgh,” he said. “This was a massive cup win for them and we should congratulate them, but that’s all I really want to say about it. I watched the game and, after the final whistle, I switched over to watch the FA Cup final, so I didn’t see any of the scenes afterwards.”

Of course, it could have been very different if Hearts had not conceded a stoppage-time equaliser to Paul Hanlon in February’s fifth-round tie.

“Yes, but fair play to them because they carried on and won the tie and went on to win the Cup,” added Paterson. “We’ve just got to focus on what we do.”

He did, however, find a novel way of ignoring Hibs’ celebratory ride through their part of the capital on Sunday.

“I bought myself a fish tank, so I spent yesterday setting it up,” he said. “I love fish. It takes a week for the tank to be up and running and, after that, I’ll be able to put some tropical fish in it.”