Why Scott McTominay was right to choose Scotland over England

Scott McTominay capped a fine breakthrough season at Old Trafford by making his international debut last month in Scotland’s one-nil defeat to Costa Rica. The young midfielder, 21, has impressed fans this season with his combative approach complimented by tidy passing skills.

McTominay was born in Lancashire to an English mother and Scottish father. He was eligible to play for either country. Much was made of McTominay’s decision to reject Gareth Southgate’s request to declare for England and instead opt to play for Scotland, the homeland of his father.

McTominay broke into Manchester United’s first team this season, making 11 appearances thus far. His performances have warranted praise from fans, pundits and even team mates. In an recent interview, Ander Hererra praised the versatility of the midfielder.

“He’s a team player and he can help in any position you put him. You saw against Chelsea he was a little more defensive and almost doing the job I did against [Eden] Hazard last season. He can be more offensive as well and he presses a lot.”

It was widely reported that McTominay initially rejected an approach to feature in Scotland’s friendly against the Netherlands back in November. However recent reports suggest that this was purely down to the player’s determination to establish himself in the Manchester United team.

According to Frank McTominay, Scott’s grandfather, both Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho “were both quite keen” on the talented youngster to play for Scotland.

Govan-born Ferguson was manager of United when McTominay was offered his first professional contract at 16. Frank McTominay attests that his grandson enjoys a close relationship with the legendary manager and that Ferguson ‘made sure’ the contract was extended when McTominay reached 18.

The influence of two of the most successful football managers of modern times aside, Scotland manager Alex McLeish played an important role and was delighted with the midfielder’s decision.

“Yeah I felt very chuffed with myself with that one. I did a lot of travelling that night to get to Manchester. I said, ‘Listen I’m not forcing it down your throat’ … (and) he said ‘I want to play for Scotland'”

McLeish rightly remarks that the 21-year-old is far from the finished article; “He’s not got all the answers. He’s 21. He’s a young guy learning the game and we have to be patient with young guys.”

Time will tell if McTominay will regret his decision not to play for England but the patience and opportunity that McLeish could offer was too good to turn down. The Tartan Army will not feature at the World Cup in Russia this year and McLeish has time on his side to assemble a new-look Scotland side.

McTominay  – who Transfermarkt value at £6.3million – could be at the heart of that side for the next decade and that experience will aid his development at club level too. That can only be a good thing for the youngster, Scotland and the Red Devils.