New Scotland call-up Jamie Mackie admitted the thought of playing against Spain was “ridiculous” after he was selected for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against both the world champions and the Czech Republic.
The 25-year-old QPR forward is the leading scorer so far this season in English football’s second division, with eight goals in nine games for the Championship leaders.
Although born in Dorking, south of London, Mackie qualifies for Scotland through his grandfather and he takes the place of the dropped Kris Boyd for the matches away to the Czech Republic a week on Friday and the visit of Spain, also the European champions, to Hampden Park on October 12.
“I am extremely proud to be selected for this squad,” Mackie said.
“Me and my grandfather used to speak about it a lot and it is a real honour for me to finally get the chance.
“It was something I always knew was possible. I knew I qualified to play for Scotland but I was not sure if anybody else knew.
“I have been given a bit more of a profile with QPR and I think people are now starting to take notice of me.”
Mackie added: “This has been a long road for me but I am nowhere near the end of it.
“I am not a player who has burst onto the scene as a teen — I’ve had to work very hard to get where I am,” explained Mackie, who has also played for Wimbledon, Milton Keynes Dons, Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle.
“I suppose in a way it makes this more satisfying because I’ve had to work my way up.
“To be honest, the thought of playing against Spain, the world champions, is ridiculous but it makes no difference the opposition, I am just delighted to be involved.”
Scotland coach Craig Levein, explaining his decision to select Mackie, said: “I was aware of Jamie at the start of the season.
“He has been watched on four separate occasions and each report has been excellent. We have been looking high and low to add to the existing pool that we can pick from.
“I believe his grandfather was born in Kilmarnock so he fits the criteria and I’m happy to have him on board.”
As for leaving out Boyd, Levein said: “If you look at the strikers I have picked, I have picked players on form, that is basically it.
“I have had a chat with Kris and explained that to him.
“He is a top goalscorer and I have no doubt that once he hits a bit of form he will be back involved in the squad.”
Scotland, who last qualified for a major tournament at the 1998 World Cup in France, have four points from their opening two qualifiers against Lithuania and Liechtenstein.
Goalkeepers: Allan McGregor (Rangers), Matt Gilks (Blackpool/ENG), Craig Gordon (Sunderland/ENG)
Defenders: Alan Hutton (Tottenham/ENG), Christophe Berra (Wolves/ENG), Kirk Broadfoot (Rangers), Stephen McManus (Middlesbrough/ENG), Gary Caldwell (Wigan/ENG), David Weir (Rangers), Steven Whittaker (Rangers)
Midfielders: Charlie Adam (Blackpool/ENG), Scott Brown (Celtic), Graham Dorrans (West Brom/ENG), Lee McCulloch (Rangers), Darren Fletcher (Manchester United/ENG), James Morrison (West Brom/ENG), Barry Robson (Middlesbrough/ENG), Jay McEveley (Barnsley/ENG), Shaun Maloney (Celtic)
Strikers: Steven Fletcher (Wolves/ENG), Chris Iwelumo (Burnley/ENG), James Mackie (QPR), Kenny Miller (Rangers), Steven Naismith (Rangers)