Believe it or not – Scotland are in a football World Cup.
Neil ‘Zorro’ Irvine, a member of Edinburgh University AFC, has been selected to play for Scotland Seniors at a World Cup tournament in Thailand next month.
The national stadium in Bangkok will host the competition and with football enjoying a swell in popularity in Thailand right now, big attendences are expected.
The squad of 22 players is divided into three age categories which are 38-43, 44-49, and over 50s. Zorro qualifies in the second category. Although Scotland finished in last place at the 2011 tournament, 2012 has brought a fresh approach that sees only three players remaining from that squad.
Zorro told The Journal: “We have a good squad, full of winners.
“We have been playing several matches and things are taking shape. All the players have played at senior level and fitness in most cases is really good, so we are going over to have a real go at winning the cup.”
The opposition in Thailand will include representatives from England, Iran, New Zealand, Australia as well as the host country. The holders, Iran, had nine former internationals in last year’s victorious squad.
During their ten-day stay the Scottish players will be coaching football to young children who lost their parents in the 2004 tsunami. In an effort to raise funds the team has been running various events in the past month across Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, including an auction of signed football tops, a race night and an Irish bingo night.
Zorro concluded by revealing the importance of his involvement in the University set-up: “To be honest if I wasn't training and playing with the University, and fighting for a jersey, I don't think I would be in the squad, so my thanks to all the guys for pushing me.”