Scott McTominay can be Scotland’s equivalent of Michael Carrick if he listens to the retiring Manchester United midfielder. That is the view of Peter Grant, one of national coach Alex McLeish’s assistants and a good friend of Carrick.
McTominay joined the Scotland squad for the first time at their Edinburgh hotel after choosing to represent the country of his father’s birth rather than his own – England.
McLeish and Grant were delighted to welcome the 21-year-old ahead of friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary. They feel he can have a long and successful international career.
Grant held up 34-cap former England internationalist Carrick – who won five Premier Leagues, the Champions League and the Europa League at Old Trafford – as the perfect example for McTominay to follow.
“I was actually at his first game and didn’t know he was Scottish,” explained Grant. “That was at the Emirates against Arsenal and he was magnificent. I remember thinking: ‘Wow. Where has he come from.’ You read the story and he was the young man who didn’t play much at Manchester United at under-18s and under-21s.
“He was like an old pro. He used the ball very well, played with an enthusiasm, a knowledge and understanding. The first thing I saw was ‘Mac’ and I was laughing saying he must be Scottish. Then you find out he could play for us.
“I’d never heard of him before that night at the Emirates. You look at him and think he can’t be Scottish because he’s 6ft 4in, passes the ball really well and is playing central midfield for Manchester United in a big game against Arsenal.
“I’ve watched him closely since. Then you find out he’s Scottish, then he wants to play for Scotland, now you’ve got an opportunity to work with him. Hopefully he can learn at Manchester United and bring something to us as well.
“I’m excited. A good friend of mine is Michael Carrick and if he can learn from a top player like that – one of the best midfielders in Britain – it’s a great opportunity for young Scott.”
Grant, pictured left, cited McTominay’s humility as one of his biggest assets takes the first steps of his international career. “He came in the other night and was very humble. You see a lot of young players who play once for the first team and think they are a player.
“You can tell with Scott he has been brought up the right way, with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. I knew the rules he had from big Alex [McLeish], and you can tell the kid has been brought up that way. His background tells you that.
“A hell of a lot of kids go the other way. He comes in with his eyes open as if he is willing to learn and is excited about playing football. Some guys turn up now and want the footballer’s lifestyle but don’t want to put the work in. If you said to them they were not playing on Saturday it would not bother them.”