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Ray Houghton: I had a rough time when I went back to Scotland, probably not as bad as the boys might get


James McCarthy (L) suffered a hamstring injury with Everton

James McCarthy (L) suffered a hamstring injury with Everton

James McCarthy (L) suffered a hamstring injury with Everton

Ray Houghton has spoken about the abuse he received from fans when he returned to Scotland with Ireland in 1987.

Ireland face the Scots in a crucial Euro 2016 qualifier this Friday with Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy, should he be fit, ready to cop flak from the home support for choosing the land of their grandparents over their birth country.

Former Scottish defender Gordon McQueen went as far as saying he hopes “McCarthy and McGeady get a horrible reception because they deserve it”.

But former Ireland hero Houghton, also born in Scotland, says that McCarthy and McGeady can both handle whatever is dished out to them at Celtic Park.

 “Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it’s what he (McQueen) feels,” said Houghton in today’s Irish Daily Star.

“I don’t know their backrounds, if they had a good or bad situation with Scotland, but mine was crap. When I chose Ireland, Scotland were not in for me."

But despite Scotland not showing an interest, Houghton was still the target of some fans in Hampden Park when a Mark Lawrenson goal gave Ireland a 1-0 win over the Scots.

“I still had a rough time when I came back to Scotland with Ireland – probably not as bad as the boys might get," added Houghton.

“My family were in the stand and they heard a lot of people say negative things about me.

“But you have to rise above it. I didn’t hear any of it on the pitch – I was focused on the game and the lads will be focused, if James is fit to play.

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“My advice to the lads is, you will get stick so be ready for it.

“And when it comes make sure you are in the right frame of mind to show why you chose to play for Ireland.

“Aiden has played in big games for Celtic against Rangers, so he is used to hostile environments.

“And they have both played in Merseyside derbies with Everton. I don’t think it will be a problem for them.

“They know they are in for a rough ride but they are more than capable of handling it.”

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