Friday, June 9, 2023

Should a player always accept a national call up?

Graham Fisher in Editorial, General Soccer News 2 Feb 2011


Right or wrong?

Most footballers would surely say that playing for their country is the ultimate pinnacle of their career. Certainly us fans who have to suffer the below par performances of their national sides would like to think so.


It therefore always comes as a surprise to me when players decide that they don’t want to play for their country.

The latest player to reject a call up from his national manager is Scotland and Wolves striker Steven Fletcher. Not only did he reject the call up, he did so via a text message!


Fletcher has made his displeasure at the Scotland set up and in particular, manager Craig Levein, fairly public, so his refusal to play should probably not come as any great surprise.

The striker was selected for the Scotland squad back in October for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Spain, but didn’t play in either game. Of course, in the Czech Republic game no striker featured for Scotland as Levein adopted his remarkable and controversial 4-6-0 formation.


Fletcher was then dropped from the squad for a friendly against the Faroe Islands in November before being in line for another call up for next week’s game against Northern Ireland. It is reported that Fletcher sent a text message to a Scottish FA official saying that he didn’t want to be selected and that Levein could give him a ring if he wanted to!!

The Wolves front man had previously been highly critical of that infamous formation in the Czech Republic but when asked about that Craig Levein didn’t want to directly comment. He chose instead to criticise Fletcher by talking about those who do want to play for their country.


“What I have found since taking this job is that I want to work with people who want to play for Scotland. I look at guys like Phil Bardsley, who has changed his nationality to play for Scotland and, after the Spain game, he was the proudest man in the world because his dad was in tears watching his son playing for Scotland.

“Jamie Mackie is another one. His grandfather is over the moon that he’s being picked for Scotland and these guys want to run their heart out and do their best for Scotland and they made their families immensely proud.

“I just think back to the Czech Republic game when I asked the players to play in a certain way. They did everything I asked and, as a manager, if you have ideas, you want players who are willing to follow them. What I don’t want is anyone in the squad who is not of that mind. For the life of me I just can’t understand anyone who doesn’t want to be part of what is happening.”


I am surprised and disappointed when I hear of any player saying that they don’t want to represent their country, but in this case, I think I can see where Steven Fletcher is coming from. He has been messed around by Levein and was part of that squad who must have been in a state of disbelief about what they were being asked to do.

Loyalty between managers and players is a two way street even at international level.

What do you think? Is it OK for Fletcher to do what he has done or should a player always respond positively when called upon by his country?


Graham Fisher



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12 years ago

If it’s a friendly, I think players don’t have to accept the call up, but if it’s the qualifiers for a competition or that competition itself, they should have no choice but to go.

12 years ago

I think friendlies are a waste of time really. There’s too many games as it is, so let’s get rid of them. As for meaningful internationals, I think you should always respond to the call. On a different note, here in Belgium, a number of players who are eligible for different countries are taking way too much time to decide who they’ll play for. It feels like these players are looking at where their best chances lie instead of really wanting to represent a country…

12 years ago

Friendlies are extremely important as it gives players a chance to meet and learn to work together. Professional clubs have all year to build cohesion in their teams and without regular training sessions the team will play as individuals rather than a unit. Imagine how inefficient it would be to try anticipate your teammate’s decisions when you haven’t seen each other since the last major competition. Otherwise i think players should make their own decisions after all they are adults.

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