Scott McTominay insists his chat with Alex McLeish was never going to be anything other than a straightforward one – because he has always dreamed of playing for Scotland.
The 21-year-old, born in Lancaster but with a father, Frank, from Helensburgh, found himself at the centre of an apparent international tug-of-war between Scotland and England after enjoying a breakthrough season at Manchester United.
McLeish travelled south to hold talks with the midfielder at United’s Carrington training ground earlier this month amid calls from both Sir Alex Ferguson and United manager Jose Mourinho for McTominay to pledge his future to Scotland. However, the youngster, who has never been capped at youth level by Scotland, claims there was never any doubt in his own mind over where his international future lay.
He said: “I have to thank the boss, Alex McLeish, for giving me the opportunity to come with the squad and to hopefully show people what I can do.
“Obviously, my dad was tremendously proud of me, and all the rest of my family as well. It’s a big honour to come away with the Scotland national team.
“That’s what you work for your whole life, from when you’re a young kid, to hopefully come away with the national team and improve and do well and help the team. I’m really pleased.
“When I spoke with the manager I was so happy he had taken time out to come and speak with me. He had travelled a hell of a long way to speak with me and I have to thank him for that. But the conversation we had was relatively simple – I wanted to play for Scotland and I always have done since I was a young boy.
“And it was an incredibly proud moment for me when he did call me up. Hopefully I can kick on and do well.”
As a tall midfielder coming through the ranks at United, the comparisons made between McTominay and Scotland favourite Darren Fletcher are obvious.
McTominay has revealed that Fletcher, who he has looked up to for years, dispensed some sage advice when United took on Stoke in the Premier League this term.
He added: “We played Stoke earlier in the season and I spoke with Darren Fletcher. He was really good with me.
“He just told me to keep going and doing what I’m doing, and to look to keep improving every day and work hard.
“They’re the messages I get every day from the manager [Mourinho] and from Alex McLeish, the boss here, as well.
“I feel like these messages are so important for me and I just need to listen and hopefully do well.
“There were multiple different players [who were role models coming through the ranks at Manchester United].
“But Darren Fletcher was one who trained with us a couple times when I was younger and I did look to him as a real role model and a leader at the football club.”
Whether the Tartan Army will draw any comparisons between the pair on the pitch remains to be seen.
But, just as Fletcher has done in recent years, McTominay, who is expected to make his Scotland debut against Costa Rica at Hampden on Friday night, has promised to give his all for his country.
He told the Scottish FA: “I’m an honest player who wants to put every single thing that he has on to the football pitch, with some quality forward passes as well.
“I want to drive with the ball and hopefully be a success for Scotland in the future, if I get a chance.”