Russell Martin’s dream of a full Scotland call-up duly came to pass today as boss Craig Levein named the Canary full-back in his squad for the Carling Nations Cup games against Wales and the Republic of Ireland later this month.
Speaking to MyFootballWriter immediately after Norwich’s final day outing against Coventry City, the 25-year-old Brighton-born right-back revealed that it was Scots-born father Dean who had the tartan connection and that a first, international call-up would just be the icing on the cake after a wonderful season for the one-time Posh skipper.
Levein travelled to Suffolk to watch Martin in action in the 5-1 demolition derby at Portman Road. Not surprisingly, he was impressed.
Martin’s fourth goal was a classic of the over-lapping full-back’s art. He also has boss Paul Lambert to thank for putting his name into the frame – albeit it has taken the Scots authorities a while to wake up to his abilities.
“I think the Gaffer has been aware of the Scottish connection,” he said, speaking after those end-of-season celebrations.
“When I was at Wycombe, the Under-21s approached him then. So, I think he knows that my Dad was born there and maybe he’s had a word with someone and it’s gone from there.”
Therefore it came as little or no surprise to find Martin duly named in the full Scotland squad today as Spurs’ Alan Hutton continues to work his way back from serious injury. With Premiership football now beckoning Martin, the Canary star has the chance to figure large in next season’s Euro2012 qualifying campaign.
“I’m really proud to get the call-up and it’s another big achievement in my career,” he told Sky Sports News today, breaking off from City’s post-season, R&R trip to the United States to answer his adopted nation’s call.
It is due reward for Martin. Playing every minute of every match in a season is no mean feat – particularly to the sustained level that he delivered over the course of that promotion campaign.
Runner-up to skipper Grant Holt in the Player of the Season poll, Martin can now look forward to the tag ‘Scottish international’ being added to his name.
Of course, the next step is to actually get on the pitch; one step at a time for a player that has grafted his way up through all four divisions of English football; from League Two with Wycombe Wanderers and then boss Lambert, on into League One with Peterborough and now, of course, through the Championship and into the top flight with the City chief.
“Now I’ve got the call-up hopefully I can get the chance to do myself proud and get that first cap,” he added.
“It has been an unbelievable season with the club, playing every game of the season and gaining promotion to the Premier League, it has been fantastic.
“Now to get this international recognition tops everything off nicely and hopefully I can go and do myself proud. It makes me very proud and it’s an honour to be representing my dad’s country.
“I’m just really looking forward to getting up there now.”
His rise to fame and fortune is very similar to that of his big pal Holt.
The latter only found his way back into the professional game after an 18-month non-league spell with Barrow; Martin trod the boards of the Isthmian League Division One with Lewes after being released Brighton.
Likewise David Fox was released by Manchester United; Andrew Crofts had months in the wilderness after being shown the door at Gillingham. All have rebuilt their careers; all are now reaping their rewards with a place in the top flight of English football.
Never give up; never stop believing – it is a motto and a mantra that runs strong through the Class of 2010-2011.
“I just took it one step at a time,” said Martin, as the Canaries find themselves with an international footballer in their midst.
“I am really glad that I have worked my way up through the leagues. To be where I am now and doing it quite quickly I am absolutely delighted.
“It’s an amazing achievement and one that I am really proud of. Hopefully I can go up there, get some minutes on the pitch and do myself justice.”
Scotland squad: Gilks (Blackpool), McGregor (Rangers), Turner (Everton); Bardsley (Sunderland), Berra (Wolves), G Caldwell (Wigan), Crainey (Blackpool), Hanley (Blackburn), R Martin (Norwich), Whittaker (Rangers), Wilson (Liverpool); Adam (Blackpool), Bannan (Aston Villa), Brown (Celtic), Forrest (Celtic), McArthur (Wigan), Morrison (West Brom), Robson (Middlesbrough); Commons (Celtic), Mackail-Smith (Peterborough), Maguire (Aberdeen), McCormack (Leeds), Miller (Bursaspor), Naismith (Rangers).