Strachan: Boo-boy Chris Martin has joined the greats

Chris Martin celebrates his late goal with his team-mates including Stuart Armstrong, left, who fed him the ball. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Chris Martin celebrates his late goal with his team-mates including Stuart Armstrong, left, who fed him the ball. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
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Gordon Strachan insists Scotland goal hero Chris Martin has joined an illustrious group including Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Gary McAllister.

Those three were jeered playing for the national team – as was Martin when coming on as substitute before scoring the winner in last night’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying success against Slovenia.

National coach Strachan also heaped praise on midfielder Stuart Armstrong, hailing his debut as the best ever in dark blue. Martin replaced James Morrison on 82 minutes and fired Scotland’s winning goal six minutes later to keep Strachan in a job and maintain hopes of a place in Russia next summer.

“Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Gary McAllister used to get booed. It’s a great club to be involved in,” said Strachan. “If you can line up with them, it’s pretty good going. It was a great moment for Chris and the players. Everybody knows we deserved to win that game. It was a sweet moment for anybody who wanted us to win.

“You play in pressure games quite a few times. This was a big one but we knew that and didn’t hide from it. Everybody here understands what Chris brings to a team. Not everybody else understands it. I don’t understand cricket at times but they tell there are some right good players there.”

Strachan admitted the Scotland performance was “probably” the best of his tenure. On Armstrong, whose pass teed up Martin, he added: “It’s the best Scottish debut I’ve ever seen. He did well but other guys were special as well. We had to have that because we were up against a very good side. Whatever happened I was proud of what they were doing.

“It’s probably the best they’ve played under me, especially in that first half considering we gave away height and strength. They had to be at their best. To deal with the fact they weren’t ahead at half-time could’ve been a problem but it wasn’t.

“Everybody involved in this can go away happy. We’re available for people to come along and support us next time and we welcome them. The points were the most important thing and the performance helps, that’s for sure. The players feel they can go and match a few national teams now.”

The Slovenian coach, Srečko Katanec, was magnanimous in defeat. “The victory of Scotland was deserved, congratulations to them. We did not show what we intended to. We played under our expectations and didn’t show anything in the first half.

“We were not confident or aggressive enough. We didn’t have a player to take the ball. It was a bad performance from our guys and there are a lot of reasons for that. It was a bad result and I’m responsible for who I pick.

“We had a few problems with players not playing in their clubs. I was not surprised by the Scottish performance. We had more self-confidence against England and showed more aggression so the result was different in that game.”