He Was Born in Jamaica, Played Soccer for England and Almost Joined the Welsh. Today, David Johnson Is Scottish

Daily Mail (London), October 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

He Was Born in Jamaica, Played Soccer for England and Almost Joined the Welsh. Today, David Johnson Is Scottish


Byline: TIM KNOWLES

HE has already pulled on the white shirt of England and the yellow shirt of Jamaica.

He almost found himself in the red shirt of Wales too.

Yesterday, David Johnson decided the navy blue of Scotland was more to his liking.

The 23-year-old Jamaican-born striker, who had not ventured north of the border before Wednesday, pledged his allegiance as an international player to Scotland coach Craig Brown.

Johnson's decision makes him eligible for next month's playoff with England for a place in the Euro 2000 tournament. If selected, he will be the first black man, and the first player with no blood ties, to represent Scotland.

As a British passport holder, Johnson was eligible to choose which of the home nations he would like to play for. His previous international appearances - for England's B team and Jamaica - were all in friendly fixtures which, according to FIFA regulations, meant he had not committed himself to either country.

Two weeks ago Johnson was named in the Wales squad for a Euro 2000 qualifier with Switzerland. He was unable to play because of an ankle injury but later accepted a Welsh squad suit and Welsh Football Association kitbag.

Craig Brown invited Johnson to Scotland after watching him in action for his club, First Division Ipswich Town, last Saturday.

On Wednesday evening he landed at Prestwick and was whisked to Ibrox Park, where he watched Glasgow Rangers beat PSV Eindhoven.

After a few hours sleep, he called a 6.15am press conference to announce his decision.

He said in a statement: 'Questions have been asked about how I, with no obvious links to Scotland, can show the same passion playing for the country as a footballer born and bred here.

'At Ibrox last night I saw a Rangers team made up of many foreign players who gave 100 per cent for the club. I do not see why this should be different for me at international level.' Tommy Docherty, who managed and played for the Scottish national side, begged to differ. 'It's a ridiculous decision,' he said. 'If it was left to me you wouldn't be picked unless you had some kind of blood link to Scotland.

'It seems these days that if your mother once had a tooth pulled by a Scottish dentist, you're in.' The deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Brendan Batson, defended Johnson's decision, however, saying: 'He's done nothing wrong and broken no rules.

'If he is being courted by all and sundry he must make up his mind.

All the best to him.' Football Supporters' Association chairman Alison Pilling said: 'From a fan's point of view what matters is what a player does on the pitch.

Though this whole business of choosing which country to play for is odd, the real issue is that he really cares about the country he's decided to play for. …

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