Phillips swayed by England snub
Matt Phillips admits being continually overlooked by England was a major factor in his decision to pledge his allegiance to Scotland.
Last Updated: 28/02/12 9:34am
Blackpool winger Matt Phillips admits being continually overlooked by England was a major factor in his decision to pledge his allegiance to Scotland.
The 20-year-old, who qualifies to play north of the border due to his maternal grandparents hailing from Ayrshire, played for England at last summer's Under-20 World Cup finals.
However, the U21s call-up he had hoped for failed to come and Phillips, who has scored 16 goals for Pool in the Championship this season, revealed he had his head turned by Scotland boss Craig Levein.
"I've had meetings with [Scotland scout] Mick Oliver and the gaffer, Craig Levein, on a few occasions," he told the The Telegraph.
"I met them for a few meals and a couple of drinks. They spoke highly about me and what I could bring to the team and I'm excited now to get my first cap and international career off the ground.
"On a personal level I was just fed up being overlooked [by England] and not getting the right recognition I felt I deserved for my performances. So I'm grateful for the opportunity to make myself available for internationals with Scotland.
"I got the chance to play for the England Under-19s in a Euro qualifier when i was at Wycombe. That lifted my profile a bit and things developed from there.
"I feel given my performances this season - and having gone away with the England Under-20s last summer - I'd have had a look-in for the England Under-21s.
"But getting the opportunity to come and play for Scotland as a full international is something I'd never pass up."
Phillips, who will have to wait to make his Scotland debut after a hamstring injury ruled him out of Wednesday's friendly against Slovenia, has rejected suggestions he changed his allegiance because he did not have the ability to play for England.
"I believe enough in my ability that one day maybe I would have played for England," he said. "But I'm not looking at that now.
"I had two opportunities maybe to sit and wait for the England Under-21s or come and be a full international for Scotland. But even if England asked me to play for their U21s I had made up my mind. This wasn't a last-minute decision."
Phillips says England caretaker boss and U21s coach Stuart Pearce contacted him to discuss his decision but insists he has no intention of reversing it.
"I had a number of conversations with him," he added. "But I haven't made this decision in a month.
"It's been an ongoing thing and something that's always been at the back of my mind that one day I'd play for Scotland.
"I spoke to Stuart Peace because it had to come from me. A lot of people might have sat around and waited but I told him I wanted to come away and play for Scotland."