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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
McFadden magic

By Colin Moffat

McFadden celebrates his goal against Ukraine at Hampden
McFadden has been inspired for Scotland in recent games
With three goals in his last three appearances, including the fabulous long-range strike that sunk France in Paris, James McFadden is very much the darling of the Tartan Army.

But the 24-year-old Everton forward has long been a favourite with Scotland followers.

He was a shining light during the dark days of Berti Vogts' ill-fated reign.

And now he is the cocksure embodiment of rediscovered Scottish confidence as a small nation leads both World Cup finalists in the race to next year's European Championship.

It was the much-maligned German coach who gave McFadden, then a teenager at Motherwell, his first taste of international football.

And McFadden stole the headlines when he missed the flight home at the end of a Far East tour after being separated from his team-mates during a night on the town.

He has since grown into a highly paid performer with Everton but maintains his zestful enthusiasm for the game and just a hint of the wayward streak that saw him stranded in Hong Kong at the age of 19.

"He's the talisman of the team," former Everton and Scotland striker Graeme Sharp told BBC Sport.

"And most of his goals aren't tap-ins. They are spectacular goals.

"Everyone will remember the one against France, which was a fantastic strike.

"But, again, he weighed in on Saturday.

"With Ukraine coming back into the game it was vital for Scotland to get a third goal and James came up trumps again."

He's just as important as the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law were because he's the one player in that side that looks like he can do something different
Graeme Sharp
on James McFadden

McFadden caused Ukraine all sorts of problems with his direct running, excellent close control and his willingness to take defenders head on.

He certainly outshone big-name opponents Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Voronin, as did a few others in the blue of Scotland.

"I'm not saying that James is world class," added Sharp, who scored one goal in 12 appearances for his country.

"But he's a very important player for Scotland.

"He's just as important as the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Denis Law were because he's the one player in that side that looks like he can do something different.

"He can conjure up a goal from nowhere and the Scottish fans love him."

An unassuming character off the pitch, he was reported to have shunned a post-Paris bottle of champagne in favour of a roll and sausage, McFadden would no doubt play down such glowing comparisons.

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Indeed, McFadden has not been a first team regular since he moved to Everton from Fir Park in 2003, which make his international heroics all the more incredible.

His Scotland tally stands at an impressive 13 goals from 35 games.

"I'd love to see more performances like that at Goodison Park," added Sharp.

"He's been a little frustrated at not having been given an extended run but he's certainly shown the whole world what he can do.

"When James first came down a lot of fans thought they were getting a quick left-winger and that is certainly not his game.

"I believe he's at his best playing up front as one of two strikers or behind a front two."

In the last three games alone, McFadden has been used as a lone striker, deployed as a partner for Kenny Miller and played out wide for Scotland as a substitute.

He was terrific on each occasion and, on current form, Scotland fans can be guaranteed a performance full of guts and bravado wherever he is asked to play.

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