SFA open the door over Novo Scotland switch

October 24, 2008

The Scottish Football Association today opened the door for Nacho Novo to play for Scotland.

The Rangers striker has revealed he would "probably" switch allegiance from Spain if called up by George Burley.

And the SFA have said they would not stand in Burley's way if the 29-year-old was to successfully apply for UK citizenship.

Novo has spent the last eight years playing in Scotland, enough time to represent the country under FIFA rules.

It is also enough time for him to apply for a British passport should he choose to do so.

An SFA spokesman said: "While our priority will always be to invest in home grown talent, if the manager wants to pick a player who is eligible and who he thinks will do a job for Scotland then he should always be allowed to do so.

"In the case of Nacho Novo, at present he does not hold a British passport and is therefore not eligible to play for any of the home nations.

"If that situation were to change then he would be considered like any other player."

Novo has said he would seriously consider accepting a call-up.

"If the SFA want to speak to me about it then of course I would be very interested in playing for Scotland," he told the Daily Record.

"After all my time here, I feel as if this is my home now.

"People have told me before that I could qualify for Scotland but no-one from the SFA has spoken to me about it so it's not something I've had to seriously consider.

"Maybe a few years ago it would have seemed a little strange but now, after eight years in Scotland, I feel as if I am part of the country.

"My kids are Scottish and everyone here has treated me so well throughout my time here that I consider myself to be at home here.

"So if someone from the SFA was to ask me about the possibility of playing for Scotland then I would probably say yes."

The SFA signed an agreement with the other home nations in 1993, which gave the green light to players born outside the UK being selected for international duty, providing they are British passport holders.

There has previously been talk of Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta, compatriots of Novo's, being called up by England.

Novo said: "I know all about Almunia's situation with England and I read somewhere that my old Rangers team-mate Mikel Arteta is also supposed to be interesting (Fabio) Capello, so it's not as if this kind of thing does not happen elsewhere."

Tam Ferry, deputy spokesman for the Association of Tartan Army Clubs, said: "Every other country seems to have other nationalities playing for them, especially Brazilians, and he's a decent Spanish-born player, so why not?

"If George thinks he can fit into the team then I don't see a problem.

"There will be a certain percentage of Scotland fans who will not be happy, those who want first-generation Scots only playing, but we have seen that other countries can be successful and if it is within the rules then why not?

"Thankfully there are a few Rangers players who still want to play for Scotland and Novo certainly gives us another attacking option."

Novo's revelation came shortly after Rangers team-mates Kris Boyd and Lee McCulloch quit the Scotland side.

There is no guarantee the striker will be successful should he attempt to secure UK citizenship, with the Home Office demanding applicants fulfil a number of criteria.