Jim Leighton always knew Jordan Archer's Scotland aim was true

There were two calls Jordan Archer had to make in short order when he received his first senior Scotland call-up last week. The first was to mother Fiona, whose roots north of the border account for the Millwall keeper's eligibility for Gordon Strachan's men. The second was to Jim Leighton, a valued figure in his life since his teenage years.

Jordan Archer is revelling in his first experience with Scotland's senior squad. Picture: SNS.

The amiable 24-year-old Londoner has been involved in the Scotland set-up since under-19s level. As an under-21, he had Leighton – the country’s most capped keeper with 91 appearances – as a coach and feels a real debt to the Aberdeen legend over his ability to make the step up to the senior level.

Leighton was there for Archer when he suffered the horror of conceding 
six goals to England in an error-strewn performance for the under-21s four 
years ago.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I was a young keeper at the time and goalkeepers make mistakes, especially at a young age,” said Archer.

“But I have pushed on a lot since then. Back then, I was at Spurs and hadn’t had a lot of men’s football. If you look at the England team, they had players who 
had been involved in a lot of senior games. I have learned a lot in the time since.

“Jim sat me down then as he’s made mistakes in his career and he told me how to deal with it and move on. I had Tony Parks, who was my goalkeeping coach at Spurs, and he also sat me down. So I had good advice from some top keepers.

“I feel I owe Jim. He had a fantastic career and I learned a lot from him. When I came into the 21s, he really welcomed me and he always said he felt I had the ability to push on. That gave me confidence and now eventually this senior squad call-up has come. I was on the phone to Jim to thank him. He returned the favour, congratulated me and told me to go and enjoy it. He’s been keeping tabs on my progress. I’ve been in contact with him frequently. He’s a good guy.”

It is unlikely that Leighton shed a tear when told by Archer that he had joined Craig Gordon and Allan McGregor in the squad for the crucial World Cup double header that will see Scotland in Lithuania on Friday before entertaining 
Malta three days later. The keeper’s mum – a MacRitchie from Clydebank, an area where he still has uncles dotted around – had a quivering lip, though, and how much Scotland means to the Millwall man himself is evidenced by the fact that framed on his wall in his home is the shirt he wore on his debut for Scotland under-19s. “It’s a proud moment for my whole family,” he said of receiving the call from the senior side.

Archer’s Mar Hall arrival showed his desperation to make the most of his call. “I flew up and was the first one here. I think I got in about 3.30pm on the Sunday,” he said. “I went in and introduced myself to the gaffer. All the boys have been brilliant with me. They have made me feel very welcome.

“The other goalkeepers have been fantastic. They are top, top pros. Craig Gordon is doing really well up here and I will be playing against Allan McGregor a couple of times this season. That will be fun.”

Archer will do so against’s McGregor’s Hull City because the Englishman was a key figure as Millwall earned a place in the Championships thanks to a play-off final win over Bradford. There was only one downside as the club also reached the FA Cup final quarter-finals and drew his first club Spurs at White Hart Lane. “I tore my quad in the fifth round win and was devastated to miss it.” As Leighton would venture, Archer’s time will come.