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Scotland keeper David Marshall’s not moved by the prospect of a record

© Craig Williamson / SNS GroupDavid Marshall
David Marshall

Only three players – Denis Law, Jim Leighton and Ned Doig – have been a Scotland player longer than David Marshall.

Handed his debut back in 2004, the Wigan Athletic goalkeeper passed Kenny Dalglish to move into the top four with his appearance against Russia on Friday.

The fact he was the hosts’ Man of the Match will have been of scant consolation to him.

An international footballer for the last 15 years, 34-year-old Marshall needs only to remain in contention for another 18 months to surpass Doig, himself a keeper in the 19th Century, at the top of the pile.

The man himself, though, remains decidedly underwhelmed by his achievement.

“I don’t think it’s much of an accolade, to be honest,” he said with a laugh.

“As much as people might try to build it up, in my case a lot of that time has just been about turning up.

“I think there must have been a 10-year spell where I only played around five games for Scotland.

“For a long, long time it was myself, Craig Gordon and Allan McGregor vying for the shirt.

“The first few years with Scotland, in particular, were difficult.

“Craig was flying at the time, so I didn’t really play, and then there were times when Allan McGregor was at Hull City and I wasn’t playing.

“It is strange, it affects you. You just don’t feel right coming on international duty when you’re not playing every week.

“You are travelling around Europe to these great cities, but you don’t get to see them and you are not playing.

“When I was younger, I didn’t enjoy that at all. But that was probably an age thing.

“If that happened to me now, which it has, it is a lot easier because you are thinking of the team.

“As it was, I knew I just needed to keep going, working hard and hoping the games would come. It is football and things do change.

“There have been times when I have been left out. I missed Alex McLeish’s reign, for example, and you do miss it when you are not involved.

“I think when it is taken away from you and you get it back, you appreciate it all the more.

“I loved getting the games this year, and hopefully can continue to get game time.”

Next up for Scotland and Marshall is Belgium tomorrow night, again at Hampden, in a fixture that will reunite Marshall with his former Celtic, Scotland and Hull team-mate Shaun Maloney.

They were friends long before either won their first cap.

Maloney now works as assistant to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, a role that Marshall says will leave him feeling a little conflicted.

“Shaun was someone I have always got on with, so when we were away with Scotland we would room together,” he said.

“He was great as a player, and was always going to be a coach when he finished playing as he was a real thinker about the game and used to soak up whatever he could from our managers.

“However, to get to the level he is at now so quickly is incredible. He’s done really well.

“I think it is a bit strange for him working against his own country just because you have been drawn against them.

“We had Belgium in the friendly last year as well, so that will be three times he will have been up against us.

“Overall, however, I think he just loves life as the coach of an elite football team.”

Some might wonder whether Maloney’s career path would equip him to give orders to the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

But Marshall argues that view fails to take into account the pair’s early days in a Celtic dressing room that contained the likes of Henrik Larsson, Neil Lennon, Chris Sutton and John Hartson.

“That group, they would make you or break you,” he said.

“The guys were so ruthless and hard on you. But, looking back, I knew it was for our own good because you had to come through it and, having done it, we are comfortable dealing with big personalities.

“Can I imagine Shaun telling Lukaku and Hazard what to do?  Aye, I can, because he’s very good at his job and knows what he is doing.

“He is a hard worker and he is confident in his own ability.  The lads at that level have got the right mentality to deal with every part of the job in a professional manner anyway.”