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Smith happy with Driver approach

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and Andrew Driver
Gordon Smith (left) hopes Andrew Driver will choose Scotland

Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith is not concerned that non Scots-born players turning out for Scotland may erode national identity.

England Under-21 winger Andrew Driver could play for Scotland because of a new rule ratified by football's governing body Fifa.

And Smith hopes the 21-year-old Hearts player will opt to play for Scotland.

He told BBC Scotland: "Andrew's name has come up. I don't think this will diminish the national team at all."

Driver is now eligible to play for Scotland, after a proposed change to the selection criteria was agreed by the other three home nations and ratified by Fifa.

Schooling rule good for Scots - Smith

It now includes players with a British passport whose only tie to a country is attending school there for five years.

Smith hopes that Driver will join George Burley's Scotland set-up.

The 21-year-old will now be considered by Burley for next month's friendly against Wales in Cardiff - but only if he intimates that he would be happy to switch from England.

Driver was born in Oldham but raised in Scotland and represented his country of residence at schoolboy level.

He had previously said he would be delighted to play for Scotland but also expressed his pride at being capped by the England Under-21 side for the first time earlier this year.

There's a lot of people who come here to live permanently and their kids are brought up here - they do feel very Scottish

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith

Smith first gained agreement for the rule change from Northern Ireland, Wales and then England.

Following Saturday's friendly defeat by Japan, Smith confirmed that this had been approved by Fifa's committee last week.

Driver was wanted by Burnley and other English clubs, but no move was concluded before the closure of the last transfer window.

Smith said: "Andrew's name has come up. It's a coincidence that it might put him into this category.

"If he decides to play for Scotland that's fine. If he's that level of player and class we might benefit from that.

"He has to decide whether he wants to be considered for Scotland and, secondly, he has to prove he's good enough.

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"If both those aspects turn out to be positive then we'll gladly accept him to the Scotland set-up."

Smith was keen to defend the move, adding: "You look around other nationalities just now and the names playing for other countries, you can tell they're not naturally from that country.

"Eduardo is playing for Croatia and he's Brazilian. We haven't gone down that line yet.

"We've been stronger in terms of our national linkage but this was to make things more inclusive.

"There's a lot of people who come here to live permanently and their kids are brought up here. They do feel very Scottish.

"From that point of view, we wanted to take that on board."

Brown would prefer 'born and bred' Scots

For former Scotland manager Craig Brown, however, the change to the ruling is a step too far.

"I'm sure Andrew Driver has been in Scotland long enough to feel a good identity with this country, but I would not allow that," said Brown.

"Good credit to Gordon Smith for extending the parameters. But I'm an old-fashioned guy, I would stick to the original rule that you were born in Scotland or one or other parent was born in Scotland.

"I would even include that not just for the players but for the management. I don't think a national team should have a foreign manager, but I'll never get away with that one.

"But if other countries are using that rule, then we must use it: we don't handicap ourselves unnecessarily."



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see also
Burnley contact Hearts for Driver
06 Jul 09 |  Hearts
Driver could still play for Scots
16 Jun 09 |  Internationals
Driver 'delight' at England call
29 May 09 |  Hearts


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