Quashie shows a Scottish heart

Vogts has looked a long way south for an enforcer
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Actors simply refer to Macbeth as "the Scottish play", because they believe mentioning it by name will court certain bad luck. Scotland's footballers may soon feel the same about MacBerti.

The last person to answer a call from Scotland's national coach - Celtic's John Kennedy - suffered such intense injury damage that it has put his career in doubt. Nigel Quashie will perform a quick costume change in Copenhagen on Wednesday night to turn into a Scot, but "break a leg" is not an optional joke on his opening night following Kennedy's wretched debut last month.

Berti Vogts predicted this week that the 20-year-old defender - who was taken from the field on a stretcher just 15 minutes into the game with Romania last month with torn knee ligaments - would remain in his plans, but Kennedy faces around a year out.

If something rotten happens in the state of Denmark this week, Vogts would hope his players would not stand by as meekly as they did when Kennedy was badly injured. The Scotland manager condemned his team for not looking after the youngster, or exacting retribution upon Ioan Ganea, the Wolver-hampton Wanderers striker whose dreadful tackle inflicted the injury.

The Danes will see a different Scotland on Wednesday, he says. "Attack one of us, you attack all of us - and you will pay the price."

Into this simmering pot of potential trouble comes Quashie, the man Vogts wants to be his midfielder enforcer. The Portsmouth player is more Cockney than Del Boy, but the former England Under-21 player will complete his transformation to bona fide Scot in the Parkenstadion by winning his first full cap for the land of his grandfather.

His former coach, Jim Duffy, believes that even if Quashie may not yet speak like a Scot, he certainly acts like one. "Nigel gets stuck right in and can be very aggressive when he wants to be," says Duffy, who helped bring Quashie to Fratton Park in his role as Graham Rix's assistant before returning to manage Dundee.

Quashie was tipped to become one of England's brightest stars when he was at Queen's Park Rangers - where he won his four Under-21 caps in 1998 and a B cap against Chile - before a move to Nottingham Forest set him back.

Duffy has no qualms about Vogts using the rule that allows him to snatch the Londoner whose Glaswegian grandfather has allowed him to kickstart his international career by swapping three lions for one. "It is a great acquisition for Scotland," says Duffy. "Nigel is a top-class player who will do a great job. He is the type who gives his all and I am excited he has decided to play for Scotland.

"He is a two-footed midfielder who is tough-tackling and very comfortable in possession. Harry Redknapp has only kept two or three of the boys from when he took over at Portsmouth, and Nigel is one of them.

"I look at the Scotland side and think he could do a real job for us. Barry Ferguson has still not returned from injury and Nigel could take that mantle of sitting and dictating play or pressing the game."

The honour of being given a debut for his adopted country will be even more keenly felt by Quashie at a time of personal trauma. His mother, Caroline, is suffering from cancer, and it is through her father that the qualification came.

"My grandfather lived in London for a long time before he died but he never lost his Scottish roots or lost his accent," Quashie said. "When I was younger, my grandfather always said I would grow up to play for Scotland. We used to laugh about it, but I know my mum will be proud of me.

"I might have played for England, but I am desperate to do well for Scotland because they have given me the chance to play international football."