In comparison to most other Scottish players from recent years, Robert Snodgrass is becoming well versed in playing England. Saturday’s World Cup qualifier will be his third senior appearance against the Auld Enemy in four years.
Were it not for injury, this weekend’s clash would be his fourth. He also played in a youth-team international where his current West Ham teammate and skipper, Mark Noble, was in the opposite side.
But Snodgrass is still in search of a first victory. Noble’s team earned the win in that first appearance while England emerged victorious in the recent meetings, including November’s 3-0 victory at Wembley.
Nevertheless, Snodgrass is contemplating Saturday’s Hampden assignment with obvious relish. There will be no better time or place to halt this run of losses and secure a place in history.
“I love the feeling of playing against them,” he said. “I love it. The rivalry has always been there, with your parents bringing you up [so that] when England were playing you would get the opposite team’s top on and all that stuff. You would be cheering on that team.
“It’s the way we have always been brought up and it’s no different now,” he added. “When you get the chance to play against them it’s big and it’s one we are all looking forward to. You don’t focus on that and what people are saying.
“You are going in there believing you can get a result because you are so up for the game. The passion and drive is attached to it. You don’t even think about anything other than beating England. People will remember you for years to come it if happens because there aren’t too many times it has happened.”
Despite suffering a series of defeats against England Snodgrass hasn’t developed an inferiority complex – and nor should he have. He has distinguished himself in the English Premier League for a number of years, at Norwich City, Hull City and now West Ham United, the club he joined in January for £10.2 million.
“I have never ever had that sort of feeling since I went down to England,” he said. “I have always had that drive inside my stomach and that burning feeling to get the success you want to achieve as an individual and to keep hitting targets. I want to keep driving forward. I have never had the feeling of being feart of this player or that player.”
Snodgrass is used to playing against the cream of English football. Almost every club in the Premier League would happily have him in their squad. But he is one of only a select few Scots operating in the English top flight. There are precious few others with the same pedigree.
“You don’t focus on that and what people are saying,” he said, when asked about the obvious gulf in quality between England and Scotland.
“You are going in there believing you can get a result because you are so up for the game. You can sit and say ‘that’s Scottish fitba’ if we go and beat them. We have good players playing at a good level, so let’s go out and express ourselves.
“You have got lads who have won trebles and the confidence of those lads can’t be any higher,” he noted. “For anybody when you play for that personal pride in yourself and you don’t want to let your team-mates down and you want to do your best for them and yourself. If we can do that it could really drive the country forward to get the result we want.”
That didn’t quite happen in the last meeting at the end of last year, when Scotland were undone by three headers in a 3-0 defeat. But, while the defeat sounded emphatic, Scotland received some plaudits for the way they played. Snodgrass believes the scoreline did not reflect the play and is backing Scotland to rectify matters this weekend. The clash at Wembley provided some evidence that England are vulnerable.
“It was shocking, what happened down there, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “There were probably only three moments and a three-minute difference between the teams.
“Had we taken our chances we could have been victorious at Wembley,” he added.
“However, that’s why these lads [England] are at the top at every level and in every position because they are guys who can score goals at any minute. But they can be got at.”