Former Hibernian, Rangers and Scotland midfielder Kevin Thomson claims that the performance of his former Ibrox team-mate, Allan McGregor, in Monday night’s 2-0 Nations League victory at Hampden has confirmed the 36-year-old as the first-choice goalkeeper for the national team.
It has taken him 13 years to amass 39 appearances for his country (his main rival, Celtic’s Craig Gordon, has won 52 caps since 2004, a period which includes two years lost to injury).
However, with Gordon arguably culpable for two of the goals in Friday’s 4-0 home defeat by Belgium, McGregor’s solid display against the Albanians – in particular, a game-changing save from Bekim Balaj at 1-0 – has, in Thomson’s estimation, seen him reclaim pole position.
“He’s the best goalie I’ve ever played with,” he said. “He’s a winner and he knows what it takes to succeed at this club. He looks as fit and as lean as I’ve ever seen him.
“I used to slag him off for being a bit podgy at times but he’s fit, although he looks greyer and he’s not getting any younger.
“He’s a real star, though - a great character in the changing room, a great team mate and a good friend. I’m delighted he’s back.
“When you have class, you never lose it. Fortunately for these goalies, they can last until they’re about 40, unlike us outfield players.
“He’s top class and I think he edges it over Craig Gordon and I’ve always thought that. They’re both top notch and we’re fortunate to have them - it’s only healthy for Scotland that they’ll fight it out and keep each other on their toes.
“The biggest attribute Greegs had when I was at Rangers – apart from his moaning – was his will to win. In five-a-sides in training I’ve never seen a goalie try so hard to stop a ball going into the net, even when his team were three or four down.”
Kevin Thomson was promoting the recently re-launched Rangers Pools. Fans can now sign up at www.rangerspools.com with all profits donated back to Rangers Football Club.