Ikechi Anya’s gratitude to Strachan for kind words

Ikechi Anya: Phoned manager. Picture: SNS
Ikechi Anya: Phoned manager. Picture: SNS
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IKECHI Anya has revealed that he phoned Gordon Strachan to thank him after the Scotland manager expressed his view that the player was too good to play in the Championship.

After Anya had scored a stunning goal against Germany in Dortmund just over a fortnight ago, Strachan commented that Anya should be playing in the English Premier League, or for a club the “size of a Celtic”.

But Anya’s gratitude was not because Strachan had helped put him in the shop window, the player insisting he is happy at Watford, who are currently lying fourth in the Championship. On recent speculation linking him with Celtic, he said: “In football, rumours are spread around all the time. Until things are concrete, I don’t think you can speculate.”

Instead he called Strachan because he wanted to thank the Scotland manager for having such faith in him.

Just five years ago Anya, who grew up in Castlemilk before moving to Oxford with his parents, was without a club after being released by Wycombe Wanderers. Now he is a regular in Strachan’s Scotland team and he has become a Tartan Army poster boy.

“I just wanted to thank him personally for what he said,” remarked Anya, who revealed he was quick to get on the phone to Strachan after reading the manager’s comments. “That game against Germany was a year to the day basically to when I made my debut against Belgium.

“I thanked him after my first cap and then when I saw the selfless comments I wanted to thank him again. He could play Premier League players ahead of me but he has faith [in me] and for that I’m grateful.”

Anya was at Ibrox yesterday to promote ticket sales ahead of next month’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia, which is being played at Rangers’ stadium. The winger said he had watched his goal, scored past Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, about “a million times” already.