Christophe Berra admits he is a moaner on the pitch but the Hearts captain makes no apology and says he would love the chance to grumble at defensive partner John Souttar for Scotland as well.
A player who demands high standards, Berra sees it as his job to guide the younger players around him and pass on his wisdom the way other experienced professionals once did for him.
Berra said: “I do get on at John, telling him to do the basics first. I tell him not to give the striker a chance because that will feed their confidence. I do moan at him but he’s got a lot of improvement – that goes for any player of any age.
“He needs that, to be honest. Maybe things were a bit too laid back but I like to keep him on his toes and, hopefully, he can keep improving and move to the next level.
Berra added: “The manager told me he was young and had a lot of potential but he needed someone experience around him. That’s one of the reasons the gaffer brought me in and so far so good. He’s doing well, he’s improving and he is a good level-headed lad who wants to learn and wants to improve. That can take you a long way.”
Berra still doesn’t know who he has to impress but hopes that whoever the new Scotland manager will be, he is taking note of Hearts’ current run of clean sheets. The Tynecastle captain has been instrumental in the team’s eight games in a row without conceding. That form should mean a great chance to add to his 41 caps and may also give Souttar, pictured, the chance to join him in the full international set up.
Berra said: “It would be great for him to get his first cap. I t will depend on who is in charge. But there is nothing to say he can’t. He has the potential. He’s a good lad, works hard and comes in every day and wants to learn and improve. Some people get carried away but I don’t think John is one of those. He puts in the hard work. If he keeps doing that then it will pay off.”
Souttar, 21, has represented Scotland at age group level. As part of a Hearts defence that has lost just 11 goals in 23 league games, a Scotland manager looking for an established partnership may find it hard to ignore the Tynecastle duo.
Sometimes managers do look for established partnerships,” says Berra. “Often it is about already having that rhythm together but there are players down south and at Aberdeen who are playing well and recently Scotland have had quite a good defensive record. So it all depends on the manager.”
But, given Berra’s exacting standards, he jokes that Souttar would probably not be keen to room with his clubmate on international duty. “He is a bit messy, I think, and I am a bit more OCD so I would have to moan at him and get him in line on that side of things as well!”