McCulloch feels forlorn
Lee McCulloch feels the timing of his international retirement has made him a hate figure in Scotland.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 11/09/08 12:47pm
Rangers winger Lee McCulloch feels the timing of his international retirement has made him a hate figure in Scotland.
The midfielder announced on Monday that he had decided to call time on his career with the national side - in between crucial World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Iceland.
The 30-year-old insists he spoke to Scottish Football Association national teams administrator Richard Simpson the previous week, with the message then failing to be passed on to manager George Burley.
As a result, Burley was forced to fend off suggestions that McCulloch had refused to play under his stewardship, hardly ideal preparation ahead of crunch qualifying encounters.
"The timing was not too good when the boys were trying to get themselves ready for a game," McCulloch told Rangers' official website.
"I did decide it before the game but a lot of people didn't know that I had spoken to the SFA before the game and let them know that decision, and I was hoping it was going to be quiet in the background between me, the manager and Richard Simpson.
"It doesn't look too good. It looks as if I am trying to upset people, upset the manager the players, the nation.
"I think as we speak just now, the whole nation hate me. I just wanted to let everyone know the truth."
McCulloch went on to admit he had been considering his international future ever since Scotland fell narrowly short of booking a place at Euro 2008 during a emotional contest with Italy at Hampden Park in November 2007.
"I've thought long and hard about stepping away from international football, for a lot of reasons, footballing reasons and family reasons," he added.
"I don't want to talk about family reasons but there are a whole lot of footballing reasons.
"I've thought about it since the Italy game, where it was bitter disappointment all round."
The veteran midfielder also feels he must begin to start protecting his aging body from the rigours of professional football.
"Another footballing reason was I started picking up niggling injuries, which have hampered me," he said.
"I picked up my current injury in the first game of pre-season and it's getting worse.
"Rangers as a club are getting stronger and stronger and the competition is getting better, so I have to think about my club football, getting my form back and helping Rangers win the league."