Ikechi Anya: Team success comes first for Scotland wide man

Ikechi Anya and Ryan Bertrand
Ikechi Anya's last start for Scotland came against England in June
World Cup qualifying: Scotland v Slovakia
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Thursday, 5 October Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Ikechi Anya insists Scotland's success as a team is more important to him than whether or not he makes the starting line-up.

Anya, 29, has played in wide attacking roles and at right-back since breaking into the national side four years ago.

However, he's been an unused substitute in Scotland's past two games.

"The first thing I want more than anything is for Scotland to be successful," he said before Thursday's World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

"For me to help Scotland, it isn't my priority if I'm right-back, if I'm left-back, if I'm on the bench. If we're winning games and I'm on the bench, as a professional it's hard but that's what you have to accept and that's the role that you play.

"Everything's a positive for me so as long as we're winning games, I'm more than happy to try and push the others to be playing as good as they're playing."

Anya started his senior career at Wycombe Wanderers before spells in English non-league football and then moved to Spain, where he represented the reserve teams of Sevilla and Celta Vigo before moving on to Celta's top team and also having stints at Granada and Cadiz.

He returned to the UK with Watford and is now with Derby County.

"Everybody's had a different background in football," he explained. "For me, I've gone sort of the hard route. I've not always been a professional footballer. I appreciate it and I'm more grateful.

"Maybe if you've always played at an academy level or whatever and then you find yourself not in the team, it could be difficult.

"But we have a good group of guys here that put the team first before them.

"When we come here, when we represent Scotland, it's more than just the individual. If we qualify, it's going to be amazing for the whole country to go to Russia and have a good time. As a footballer, you want to give back with whatever means because we do live privileged lifestyles.

"It's been a long time since we qualified for a major tournament and to give that happiness to the nation would be an unbelievable achievement from a personal point of view as well."

Victories over Slovakia at Hampden and away to Slovenia on Sunday will clinch second place in Group F and should secure the Scots a play-off place for next year's finals in Russia as they seek to reach a first major tournament since the France 1998 World Cup.

"We've peaked at the right time and hopefully we can see that through," Anya added.