Scots' attitude is the height of nonsense
Do some Scottish football coaches need to be more open-minded when it comes to height?
The World Cup in Africa would appear to suggest the answer is a resounding "yes".
Recently I heard it said that Lionel Messi wouldn't have graduated through the Scottish game because he was too small.
A lack of height hasn't hampered the careers of top players Xavi, Messi or Iniesta. Photo: Getty.
And the Mexican goalkeeper Oscar Perez at 5 foot 7 inches would have been laughed off the park in Scotland.
The Mexican may have spring in his legs like Zorro and reactions quicker than Speedy Gonzalez, but everyone knows that keepers have to be 6 foot-plus, don't they? (Sorry, Andy Goram....who was he?)
A generation of Scottish coaches continue to confuse athleticism with height and strength.
They have failed to grasp the notion that acceleration, pace, suppleness, flexibilty, speed of thought and dynamic power are crucial components for players.
Watch Messi use his 5 foot 6.5 inch frame to roll players two stone heavier off the ball, and his alacrity of movement and thought leave opponents in his wake.
Yet I hear of clubs who still want to know what height a boy's parents are before they'll sign him.
So if Messi ever has a son looking for a club, don't come to Scotland for a trial.
This is not a diatribe against the Peter Crouches of this world, but ability cannot be determined by height and strength alone, as many coaches seem to believe.
The evidence at this World Cup has shown the opposite to be true.
Marcelo the Brazilian full-back/wide player scrapes in at 5 foot 7.5 inches, while Italian centre back Fabio Cannavaro is 5 foot 9 inches, two positions widely regarded in Scottish football as requiring 6 foot-plus stature.
How many good young boys are lost to the game because of this closed-minded obsession with height?
And, more importantly, where did this parochial view come from?
After all, this is a nation which gave birth to the ball wizardry and genius of midget gems like Jimmy Johnstone and Billy Bremner, not to mention Denis Law, who at 5 foot 9 inches had a spring in his legs which left much taller defenders grounded.
At one time we produced pocket dynamos who had the strength, speed, agility and, above all else, the sheer raw talent to allow them to grace the world's greatest stages.
I suspect they're still out there, waiting for their chance if only some coaches could find it in themselves to put their measuring tapes away.