By Chris Wright
On the back of an impressive season so far with Bournemouth, winger Matt Ritchie received his first international call-up earlier this week after finding himself included in the Scotland squad for next Wednesday’s friendly against Northern Ireland as well their Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar the following Sunday.
It shouldn’t come as much of a shock but Ritchie wasn’t actually born in Scotland – in fact, he was born and raised in Gosport, which is just about as far from Scotland as you can get without straying into northern France.
Indeed, when asked about his maiden cap, the Bournemouth boy came clean and openly confessed that he’d never even been to Scotland before.
“I had a call a couple of weeks ago from the manager (Gordon Strachan),” Ritchie told the Daily Record.
“That was a massive surprise and at first I thought it was a prank call.”
Ritchie went on to explain that he does have family ties to Scotland, and that his call-up wasn’t just a random-pin-in-the-map kind of affair.
“My dad was born in Edinburgh and so were my grandparents. My granddad was in the Royal Navy and they moved to England after he had been posted to Portsmouth, which is where I grew up.”
“I’ve still got relatives in Scotland but my aunties and uncles always seem to come down here to see my nan and granddad so I haven’t actually been to Scotland.”
Let’s face it: He’s not the first, he won’t be the last and it’s actually fairly refreshing to see a player be so unashamedly honest about the situation.
The system’s naff but Scotland offered him the chance to play international football and he jumped at it. Who can fault him?