By Coral Barry
Liam Cooper has admitted he longs to be part of the long list of Leeds greats who have represented Scotland.
The Hull-born centre-back is on the verge of collecting his first senior cap for Scotland in Tuesday night’s friendly with Denmark, but was criticised by club legend Gordon McQueen for not being Scottish.
Cooper, who qualifies through his Scottish grandfather, has now revealed he dreams of following in the footsteps of former Leeds greats like McQueen who have represented Scotland and hopes to emulate them.
“I’m obviously well aware of the Leeds players who have appeared for Scotland,” said Cooper speaking to the Scotsman. “They’re before my time. But they are highly thought of and their pictures are all over the walls at Elland Road.
“They are heroes in Leeds. There’s a statue of Billy Bremner outside the ground too, so we’re well aware of the Scottish link — and it’s good to be a part of it.
“It’s a great honour for me to be called up to the squad.”
One such great is Cooper’s international coach, Gordon Strachan who made 50 appearances as player for Scotland and spent six years at Elland Road.
McQueen slammed Scotland’s selection policy this week after Cooper’s inclusion, arguing that ‘you are either Scottish or you aren’t’.
The former Leeds player was disappointed to see Scotland combing the English market for potential international players and has singled out Cooper’s call-up as an ‘indictment of Scottish football and Leeds’.
Cooper is joined by English-born Leeds teammate Liam Bridcutt on international duty and is adamant that his first Scotland appearance will mean a great deal to him.
The Leeds defender said: “You can’t avoid the past at the ground. It’s an old stadium and the pictures of the Leeds greats are everywhere.
“The manager and the other Scots legends are part of all that.
“We’re all aware of the success they had and the history with Scotland.
“It helps provide added inspiration for us when we look at the pictures and see these great players from the past.
“I’m a player who will always wear his heart on his sleeve, I’ll always give my all. Hopefully that will show. The team the manager was a part of at Leeds was great — full of legends of football.”
In other Leeds news, Bridcutt has singled out one reason for his recall to the Scottish squad.