Football: Goram quits Scotland over alleged affair

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SCOTLAND'S gentle build-up to the World Cup finals was disrupted last night when Andy Goram, who had been vying with Jim Leighton to be the first-choice goalkeeper, suddenly announced his retirement from international football and flew home to Glasgow.

Goram, who has endured an injury-troubled season with Rangers, asked to be relieved of his duties with the squad following reports in a Scottish tabloid about his private life alleging an affair with a female employee of Celtic.

Goram, 34, told the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, that he felt the adverse publicity was affecting his preparations for France 98. His decision to leave - and to withdraw from the international scene indefinitely - at least clarifies any lingering doubts about the goalkeeping jersey. Leighton, who is 39, and has 85 caps, now becomes the undisputed No 1 again. He can expect to line up against Brazil in the World Cup's opening match in Paris on 10 June.

Celtic's Jonathan Gould, the London-born son of the Wales manager, Bobby Gould, will this morning board a flight in London, on his way to join Scotland at their training camp in New Jersey.

Gould, who will be 30 in July and qualifies for Scotland by virtue of his grandmother's birthplace, is uncapped at senior level but has played twice for the B international team this year. A converted striker, he enjoyed an outstanding season as Celtic regained the Scottish championship.

Goram had a chequered career between the posts for Scotland, stretching back over 13 years and 43 caps. He kept Leighton out during Euro 96 despite having pulled out of one of the qualifying matches complaining that he did not feel "mentally attuned". His last appearance came in the defeat by Denmark in March.

Wimbledon's Neil Sullivan - yet another "Anglo", born in Surrey - steps up to the No 2 spot with only three caps behind him, while Gould will provide back-up on the bench.

The Scottish Football Association confirmed Goram's international retirement, with immediate effect, in a hurriedly prepared statement.

The SFA's president, Jack McGinn, added his own appreciation of Goram. He said: "He leaves with the best wishes of the Association and everyone connected with the squad."

"We ask that his wishes about his privacy be respected. We all appreciate his contribution to Scotland throughout his international career."

Earlier yesterday, Goram had played half a game, with Leighton playing the other half, in a hastily arranged friendly against the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Playing behind closed doors at a local college stadium, the Scots beat the Major League Soccer side 4-0. Scotland have another friendly lined up against the United States in Washington DC on Saturday.

The MetroStars game had been arranged to give match practice to players, who, like Goram, missed Saturday's 2-2 draw against Colombia. In the event, Scotland's line-up included Colin Hendry, who will captain them in the finals, plus four others who played at Giants Stadium on Saturday.

Pleasingly for Brown, there were goals for two of his back-up strikers. Celtic's Simon Donnelly scored twice, while Scott Booth, who spent much of last season on loan from Borussia Dortmund to Utrecht, added another. The fourth goal came from Kieron McAnespie, a St Johnstone teenager who has accompanied the squad to the US to gain experience.