Motherwell boss Graham Alexander: I treated every game I played for Scotland like the World Cup final

With Scotland involved in three World Cup qualifiers this week, Motherwell FC gaffer Graham Alexander has revealed his love of playing for our national team.

Graham Alexander playing for Scotland against Macedonia at Hampden in a World Cup qualifier in September 2009 (Pic by Robert Perry)

Alexander, 49, won 40 caps at right back between 2002 and 2009, having played for Scunthorpe United, Luton Town and Preston North End.

Alexander said: “Playing for Scotland was a big thrill for me – it had been my dream from when I was a kid – and I treated every game like the World Cup final. That was difficult when the results weren’t great, and particularly that time in the Faroes.”

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This was the 2002 Euros qualifier where all we could do against a bobble-hatted goalie was scrape a 2-2 draw.

Alexander took over as 'Well boss in January

“The ground only had two stands,” Alexander added. “It made me nostalgic for the Fourth Division and places like Northampton, open next to a cricket ground, where if the ball was booted some poor seven-year-old would have to scamper after it.

"But obviously the result wasn’t good. We had to take a ferry to the island where the game was played and on the ride back the media were clustered round Berti.

"The only way he could have escaped was if he’d jumped overboard. I thought: ‘This is serious.’

“I liked Berti but he was under constant pressure after all the successful campaigns previously.

Berti Vogts gave Alexander first cap (Pic by Gary M Prior/Getty Images)

"He rebuilt with young guys but also tried someone like me. I got a hard time from the media as well.

"After all, I was 30 years old, English-born with a Coventry accent, and at that point had never played top-level football.

"There was a lot of stuff like: ‘Surely there has to be someone who’s genuinely Scottish and better than this bloke?’

"That was pretty much the gist of what some fans were shouting at me during the match. You could hear everything that day, just like at Darlington and Scarborough.”

Did he think about quitting the international scene, saving himself all the hassle?

“Not at all,” Alexander said. “I would have been cheating myself, all my managers and coaches in my career until that moment – and most important my family and my upbringing.

“I wasn’t self-conscious about my background, my accent or anything when I played for Scotland – indeed I’d have felt more awkward being in the England team.

"Growing up, when everyone in our street and in the playground was English, I loved being different. Dad took me to England-Scotland games and there was no doubt who my country were.”

The West Midlands tones fooled David Moyes, Alexander’s manager at Preston.

“He didn’t know about the Glasgow connection, my dad hailing from Townhead – Toonheid to him – and ending up in Coventry where his dad had come looking for work.

“Moyesy said: ‘We’ll have to get you into that Scotland team, then.’ ‘Yeah, gaffer, that would be great,’ I said, not thinking for a minute it would ever happen.

“When it did the SFA wanted my birth certificate to check if dad really was Scottish. ‘Haven’t seen it for years, son,’ he said when I phoned home, ‘what do you need it for?’ When I told him, I was sure he was going to run all the way up to Glasgow to present it.”