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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK


Sport: Football

Johnson commits to Scotland

David Johnson: Opted for Scotland ahead of Wales

Ipswich striker David Johnson has ended the confusion over his international future by pledging his allegiance to Scotland.

But coach Craig Brown has told him he will not face England in next month's Euro 2000 play-off.

If and when he is eventually selected Johnson will become the first black player to win a Scotland cap.


David Johnson: "Future is with Scotland"
The news comes as a blow to Wales, who had called the Jamaican-born player into their squad to play Switzerland earlier this month and were confident of persuading him to commit to their cause.

But Johnson, who has a British passport and qualifies to play for all four home nations, decided on Scotland after witnessing Rangers' superb 4-1 Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night.


[ image: Johnson announces his decision]
Johnson announces his decision
The 23-year-old - a ex-England B international - said the passion of the Scottish supporters had helped clinch the move for him.

The former Bury and Manchester United player travelled to the game with Scotland manager Craig Brown and afterwards held lengthy talks on his international future.

And he announced his decision in a statement released on his way back to Ipswich on Thursday morning.

Johnson said: "I arrived in Scotland yesterday and was given a great welcome by the media and the Scottish people. Last night I went to see the Champions League match against PSV, in which Rangers played brilliantly.

"The passion of the Scottish supporters during the match was an exceptional experience. You certainly understand and appreciate good football here.

'Same passion'

"I was invited to Scotland by Craig Brown to discuss the possibility of making myself available for selection to play for the national team.

"Questions have been asked about how I, with no obvious links to Scotland, can show the same passion playing for the country as a footballer born and bred here.


[ image: Craig Brown: Late-night talks secured Johnson's services]
Craig Brown: Late-night talks secured Johnson's services
"At Ibrox last night I saw a Rangers team made up of many foreign players who gave 100% for the club, I do not see why this should be different for me at international level.

"Questions have been asked about my links with other countries and why Scotland now. The answer is that I was only invited to consider Scotland last week."

Brown revealed that Johnson had only come to his decision at 0545.

He described as "remote" the player's chances of lining up against England in the Euro 2000 play-off because four other strikers are ahead of him in the queue.


Craig Brown: "Long-term investment"
But Brown stressed: "He is a very good striker and I am very pleased that he has decided to commit his future to us.

"He got a genuine welcome at Ibrox last night when the fans threw Rangers scarves over him and shook his hand and wished him all the best.

"We have got to make the best use of our resources for good strikers and good players don't grow on trees.

"It is my job to get the best available players and to exploit every avenue that is open to me."

Welsh Football Association secretary general David Collins was disappointed.

"Until the player has undertaken a championship game for Wales obviously he's still at liberty to make a choice and he has exercised that choice," he said.

"I'm sure the team manager will be speaking with him...there must be great disappointment throughout the principality that he's made this choice."



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