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Turning tapas into tablet won't get us to South Africa

Chick Young | 20:58 UK time, Monday, 27 October 2008

They used to mark out borders with stone walls and checkpoints. These days, though, in the world of international football, dividing lines are made of elastic.

Wee Nacho Novo wants to swap paella for pie and chips while Scottish players pledge their hearts to the Republic of Ireland. Worse still, those with peas for brains want them burned at the stake as traitors.

Lee McCulloch (left), who doesn't want to play for Scotland, and Nacho Novo, who doesMeanwhile the stirring of England's heart has been motivated by an Italian. This isn't sport: it's a game of pass the passport.

It has all gone stark raving bonkers.

Rangers fans - and a few others - who give young James McCarthy dog's abuse on his decision to play for the Republic rather than the land of his birth will presumably be dead chuffed if Novo achieves his ambition to flee his native Spain for Scotland. Double standards are us.

Of course the Accies teenage sensation isn't the first bloke from these shores to be wooed by the Irish. Aiden McGeady - from Glasgow's south side - and before him Ray Houghton from the city's Castlemilk were embraced by the Republic.

Frankly, as a Scottish supporter, I would rather they played for the old country, but it is their choice. Just as it is with Novo.

Given the current perilous state of our World Cup hopes - and particularly the wee domestic in the striking department - all contributions are gratefully accepted.

But it cannot be as easy as the player saying he wants to pull on the dark blue number nine jersey. For that matter so do I, but there might be another couple of pre-requisites.

Ability for a start. Now just let me make sure that I have this right.

Kris Boyd cannot get a game for George Burley because he hasn't played often enough for Rangers, but suddenly there is a clamour to fire the man behind him in the Ibrox queue into the Scotland team. It's nuts. I told you it was.

And in any case the whole shooting match is flawed from the start. Strict guidelines - or marshmallow guidelines, to be more accurate - surround the players but the manager can be a Martian if you want.

So how does that work? If the idea is to have one nation against another, should the coach not be of the stock of that particular country too?

Or tell you what, why don't we go back to the days of the inter-league fixtures when you picked a team not by nationality but from the players performing in you league. So we could have Artur Boruc, Pedro Mendes, Georgios Samaras and Shinsuke Nakamura. Although I can see the flaw in this.

England - given the riches of their Premiership - would conquer the world in minutes. Imagine, if you will, the finest of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea bonded together...and then swallow quickly.

So it really doesn't mattter how you slice it, we are still spinning in the jetstream of all around us.

For all that Novo's declaration, as we slip into the emotional year of Homecoming Scotland and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns is welcome. It really is awful nice of him.

But I am afraid the problems of Scotland and the reaching out for South Africa won't be solved by turning tapas into tablet.


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