Oli McBurnie 'hurt' when his commitment to Scotland is questioned

Oli McBurnie insists he has no problem with Scotland supporters who doubt his worth at international level.
Oli McBurnie admits his failure to score for Scotland in his nine appearances so far 'looms over' him (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Oli McBurnie admits his failure to score for Scotland in his nine appearances so far 'looms over' him (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Oli McBurnie admits his failure to score for Scotland in his nine appearances so far 'looms over' him (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But the Sheffield United striker believes question marks over his commitment to the country’s cause are both misplaced and hurtful.

McBurnie caused a stir last month when, having been left out of Steve Clarke’s squad for the UEFA Nations League matches against Israel and Czech Republic, he appeared as a half-time substitute for his club in a friendly against Derby County.

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For the 24-year-old, who joined United in a £20 million move from Swansea City last year, it was another blot on his copybook in the eyes of the Tartan Army after he had previously been caught on camera apparently disparaging the Scotland squad set-up.

McBurnie vigorously disputed those accusations and is back in the Scotland fold this week for Thursday’s crucial Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel at Hampden.

Speaking to the Scottish FA’s official podcast, the Leeds-born front man has opened up on how much he was affected by the criticism.

People are well within their right to question and challenge my ability,” said McBurnie. “That’s more than fair enough. I’m a footballer and if people don’t like the way I play, then that’s fine.

“The hard bit for me is when it’s about commitment. I’ve always seen myself as Scottish - I’m a Scotsman - and I’ve told the story many times about when England were playing and me and my brother would go to school with Scotland flags painted on our faces.

“So that one does hurt me. Criticising my football hurts my family more than it hurts me because I’m used to all that stuff. The way I am, I’m the type person or player people like to dislike.

“My mum and dad like to read that stuff and I keep telling them not to read it because it’s never going to get better.

“But the older I’ve got the more mature I’ve become and have realised you’re never going to please everybody. And the way I am as a person and a player I’m definitely not going to please everybody.

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“But anybody who knows me, including all the boys here, knows how much I want to be here to help the team as much as possible.”

McBurnie has yet to find the net in nine appearances for Scotland and admits it weighs heavily on him.

“It does hurt me, it really does hurt me that I haven’t scored yet, if I’m being completely honest with you,” he said.

“I’ve done a lot in my career so far. I’m 24 and have played in every division from the Conference up to the Premier League. I’ve scored in every division and when I think about it there’s a lot ticked off.

“But the one thing I haven’t done, which I want to do, is score at international level. And not just score one, but score goals.

“It looms over me a little bit. Thursday would be a delightful time for me to get that first goal. It’s something you do dream of but we won’t talk too much and see what happens.”

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