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SORRY SVEN; Scot Matteo says thanks, but no thanks to last-gasp offer from England boss Eriksson.

Byline: Iain Campbell

DOMINIC Matteo is the hero of Scotland this morning after rejecting an 11th hour approach from Sven Goran Eriksson to join the England squad to face Spain next week.

The Leeds United star rejected the last of several approaches from the new English boss yesterday morning - just hours before the Swede named his first squad.

As MirrorSport exclusively revealed yesterday, Eriksson has been hugely impressed by the player who made his Scotland debut against Australia last November and was anxious to include him against the powerful Spaniards.

Matteo, who was outstanding in Wednesday's Champions League win over Anderlecht in Brussels, though, made it clear that he is sticking with Scotland, despite making his international debut for England B under Glenn Hoddle.

But although England could have poached the Dumfries-born player back because he has not yet played a competitive match for his country of birth, his heart remains with Scotland.

Last night, while the player tried to put the wrangle behind him and concentrate on Leeds' Premiership game at Tottenham, his agent Struan Marshall revealed Eriksson's behind the scenes shenanigans.

He said: "Dominic had a couple of approaches during the week and rebuffed them both. He fully committed himself to Scotland prior to the Australia game.

"Hopefully this will now end any speculation over his future.

"There were plenty of doubters who said that Dominic was only interested in Scotland because he hadn't received a full call- up from England but the truth is he was born in Scotland and has always been a Scotland fan.

The Mirror understands that Eriksson even considered naming the 26-year-old left- sided midfielder in his squad in an attempt to pressure him into reconsidering his position, but his last- gasp attempt was firmly rejected.

Marshall added: "Obviously if he had any lingering desire to represent England then he would have encouraged the approach but his attitude was made crystal clear to them.

"His dad is a proud Scot of Italian descent and the player has always identified himself as Scottish."

Matteo has previously admitted he only played for England in the first place because Scotland didn't come in for him.

And now as England begin their brave new world under Eriksson, they have been left in no doubt that they will have to do without one of the best wide players in the Premiership.

facility would influence his decision, he said: "I can give a simple answer but honesty is not always good, I've realised that here.

"I don't want to give an answer on that."

Advocaat though was scathing about the calls from club legends like Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist for him to make his position clear.

He said: "It's always easy for people not responsible to react and maybe they get some money for it.

"I've repeated and repeated and repeated that two people will decide what is the best for Rangers - David Murray and myself, not other people.

"We know what's best for Rangers FC and not outsiders."


YOU CAN'T NIC ME: Dominic Matteo told the English he was totally committed to Scotland; FIRST AGAIN: Yesterday's Mirror
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 24, 2001

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