SPFL players past and present at World Cup: Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Dundee Utd represented at Qatar

Canada's forward Liam Millar, left, is now at Basel but once had a loan spell at Kilmarnock.Canada's forward Liam Millar, left, is now at Basel but once had a loan spell at Kilmarnock.
Canada's forward Liam Millar, left, is now at Basel but once had a loan spell at Kilmarnock.
Scotland may not be at the World Cup, by the Scottish Professional Football League will be well represented – plus there are plenty of players who once plied their trade in the leagues, or are indeed born Scots, at Qatar. Mark Atkinson talks you through them ...


Given the size of Aberdeen in comparison to other clubs in the cinch Premiership, it is quite surprising that the Dons will not have a single soul at the tournament. Manager Jim Goodwin is likely to be happy about that, though, keeping his group in tact during the break. Out-of-favour Christian Ramirez has been capped two times by the United States but is miles away from the current set-up, while Marley Watkins' Wales days are long gone. Kelle Roos and Vicente Besuijen can cheer on Netherlands from afar.


There had been high hopes that three of Celtic's Japanese contingent would be picked by manager Hajime Moriyasu for the World Cup. In the end, only one of them made it: Daizen Maeda. Kyogo Furuhashi's omission raised some eyebrows but Japan are blessed with good creative, attacking options such as Daichi Kamada, while Reo Hatate is in good form but behind more established midfielders. Yosuke Ideguchi's injuries rendered his chances redundant. Stand-in captain and in-form defender Cameron Carter-Vickers has forced his way back into the US squad, while Josip Juranovic has been picked by Croatia. Aaron Mooy, an established part of the Australia team, is in their group. Matt O'Riley had an outside chance of being selected by Denmark after making the original 55-man squad, but failed to make the final cut. The same fate befell Jota, who was culled after being listed in the provisional Portugal squad. Still, four representatives is a decent enough total.

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Dundee United will have two players at the World Cup. Left-back Aziz Behich is a regular for Australia, while talented midfielder Dylan Levitt is in the Wales squad and while he is less likely to get minutes on the pitch, two goals in his past two games – one against Celtic – and a return to form will have done his chances no harm whatsoever.


There is a healthy dollop of Australia in the Hearts squad these days and all three of their Socceroos – Nathaniel Atkinson, Kye Rowles and Cammy Devlin – were picked by manager Graham Arnold. Devlin's selection left him in tears as it means so much to him to be in Qatar. Hearts' squad is largely British and therefore it is no real surprise that they are the only Jambos involved. In tribute, Hearts are renaming their Eighten74 on the roof of the Main Stand Bar Roo for the duration of the tournament.


Martin Boyle was a certainty to be on the plane to Qatar until he injured his knee a couple of weeks ago against St Mirren. While selected by Arnold to be in the squad, he is facing a race against the clock to make it. His club manager Lee Johnson reckons he should be fit enough but much will depend on how much pain he is by the time the Socceroos play their first match on November 22. He's the only Hibee at the World Cup.


Ayrshire will not have a representative at the tournament, although you can be sure the club's Welsh cohort of Ash Taylor, Joe Wright and Hibs loanee Christian Doidge will be cheering the Dragons on.


The Lions are having a mighty fine time of it under David Martindale this season but all of their players will be watching proceedings from West Lothian.


Steelmen striker Kevin van Veen's nickname is the Budget Bergkamp, and that brings back memories of the great Netherlands forward's famous goal against Argentina. As tenuous a link to the World Cup as you will find. There will be no Claret and Amber in Qatar.


Borna Barisic is a regular in the Croatia squad and will hope to get some game-time at left-back, but his team-mate and compatriot Antonio Colak was left out of the final squad after being provisionally selected. There are some more hard-luck stories in the Rangers squad: Tom Lawrence may have been selected by Wales had he not been injured, while James Sands and Malik Tillman have not done enough to be included in the USA squad. Rabbi Matondo has been capped 11 times by Wales but is currently out of favour and Scott Arfield, capped 19 times for Canada, retired from international duty in January.


Dingwall to Doha is not a well-trodden path and, unsurprisingly, the Ross County squad will be taking the tournament in from the Highlands. Victor Loturi and Ben Paton will no doubt try and get the rest of the squad to cheer on Canada.

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David Wotherspoon will find out his Canada fate on Sunday, when manager John Herdman names his squad. The midfielder has been picked ten times for his country but only just back from a serious injury and will hope his recent form sparks a recall. Compatriot Theo Bair, capped twice for the Maple Leafs, has less of a chance. Veteran Australia defender Ryan McGowan had hoped his good form this season might win him a place in the Socceroos squad but he has missed out as Arnold goes with a younger pool of players.


There were mixed emotions for St Mirren's two Aussies this week, who were both capped for the first time last month. Midfielder Keanu Baccus has been selected by the Socceroos but defender Ryan Strain will have to watch it all back in Paisley.


There are a number of ex-SPFL players – and indeed some bona-fide Scots – pitching up in Qatar next week. Let's start with Australia. While seven current SPFL men make up their squad, former Hibs, Ross County and Celtic midfielder Jackson Irvine is one of their main midfielders and striker Jamie Maclaren had two loan spells at Hibs. But, wait for it, there are no one but TWO Scots in their squad. Giant defender Harry Souttar, brother of Rangers player John and a Scotland Under-21 internationalist, is just back from a bad knee injury and has been picked, but Jason Cummings – capped twice by Scotland in friendlies in a previous life – recently forced his way into the Australia set-up by virtue of his mum having dual citizenship and his excellent form for Central Coast Mariners in the A-League. The ex-Hibs man will be worth watching!

Netherlands have ex-Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk marshalling their defence and he is joined by Jeremie Frimpong, once of Celtic and now of Bayer Leverkusen, while former Celtic loanee Timothy Weah – now at Lille – is in the USA squad. Another ex-Celt, midfielder Olivier Ntcham, is in the Cameroon squad after switching nationalities earlier this year. James Maddison, picked by England manager Gareth Southgate, had a successful loan spell at Aberdeen. Wales have two players who once played in Scotland – Danny Ward (Aberdeen), Aaron Ramsey (Rangers) – and Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel once had a loan stint at Falkirk. Speaking of keepers, Eiji Kawashima – now 39-years-old – is still in the Japan squad, which may surprise Dundee United fans after his ill-fated spell at the club in 2016, their relegation season. And Canada's Basel forward Liam Millar spent a season on loan at Kilmarnock between 2019 and 2020.

Finally, Argentina's Alexis Mac Allister is of Irish and Scottish descent – could you guess by his name? At least there will be one Mac in Qatar ...