December 9 2013 Latest news:
Norwich City club captain Russell Martin's football career will scale fresh heights if he features for Scotland against Belgium in Friday's Hampden Park World Cup qualifier. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Norwich City club captain Russell Martin will fulfil another footballing goal should he make his Hampden Park bow in Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against the star-studded Belgians.
Martin was part of Gordon Strachan’s side beaten 3-2 in a Wembley friendly clash with England last month but the 27-year-old has yet to savour the unique Tartan Army atmosphere at their spiritual home.
“I played against Australia at Easter Road but this is my first time at Hampden and it is huge for me,” he said. “My family are coming. They were at Wembley for the England game and love it. It was the best atmosphere they’ve ever experienced. They were in with the Tartan Army, Scotland shirts on, the lot.
“It’s funny, because we were born and brought up in England and always supported both as we were growing up. But my oldest brother pestered me as soon as I started playing full-time to push to get involved in the Scotland set-up.
“I was playing for John Gorman at Wycombe at the time and mentioned it but nothing ever came of it. Then Paul Lambert put me forward for the Under-21s. Archie Gemmill came to watch me in a game at Wrexham but I was above age for the qualifying campaign. So this dream has taken a while to come to fruition – but I got there. The family are really proud of where I am now.”
Martin will relish the chance to shackle the likes of Aston Villa’s powerful striker Christian Benteke and Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku after sitting out the corresponding 2-0 defeat in Brussels.
“You go toe to toe with these guys every week. They’re top players – Belgium’s golden generation, but people don’t give our squad enough credit,” he told the Daily Record. “We have guys playing in the same league as theirs, Celtic is in the Champions League – it’s a good squad. I have no trepidation. I’m desperate to play at Hampden. We can do it.”
Martin believes Strachan’s arrival has given the national set-up a major boost with the former Leeds’ boss now realistically planning for an assault on Euro2016 in France.
“The next real goal is to get to a finals,” he said. “I’ll be a good age, around 30, by the time of the Euros in France. I will be 32 at the World Cup after this one. It’s do-able for me and with the squad we’ve got it is a massive aim. It’s been an unbelievable journey for me. But I’ve worked extremely hard to get where I am. I’ve real belief in myself and a desire to do better.”
Chris Hughton admitted Norwich’s soft centre again contributed to their downfall as Luis Suarez inspired Liverpool to a 5-1 Premier League win on Wednesday night at Anfield.