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Sep, 12, 2008

McCulloch: 'The whole of Scotland hates me now'

Former Scotland international Lee McCulloch has claimed that 'the whole of Scotland hates me', but distanced himself from reports that he had quit the international scene because of new manager George Burley.

The Rangers player is angry over the handling of his decision, which was revealed to the public last week and soured Wednesday night's euphoric 2-1 win over Iceland in Reykjavik. McCulloch has told Richard Simpson, the SFA administrator, of his intentions, but it was meant to have remained a secret until Scotland's two recent World Cup qualifiers had been played.

''The timing was not too good when the boys were trying to get themselves ready for a game,'' McCulloch admitted in the Times. ''It doesn't look good. It looks as if I was trying to upset people - upset the manager, the players, the nation. I think as we speak just now, the whole nation hates me. But I just wanted to let everyone know the truth.''

Contrary to reports, McCulloch also insisted that his decision to stop playing for Scotland was due to recent issues of family health, which have been concerning him, as well as his own injury situation. In fact, he said, he had been thinking of retiring from Scotland for over a year.

''A lot of people didn't know that I had spoken to the SFA before the [Macedonia] game and let them know of my decision, and I was hoping it was going to be [kept] in the background between me, the manager and Richard Simpson.

''I've thought long and hard about stepping away from international football, for a lot of reasons - footballing reasons and family reasons. I don't want to talk about family reasons, but there are a whole lot of footballing reasons.

''I've thought about it since the Italy game [in November 2007], where it was bitter disappointment all round. Another footballing reason was that I started picking up niggling injuries, which have hampered me. I picked up my current injury in the first game of preseason and it's getting worse.

''Rangers as a club are getting stronger and stronger and the competition is getting better, so I have to think about my club football, getting my form back and helping Rangers to win the league.''

McCulloch was omitted from Burley's last two squads due to a knee injury that has been bothering him. The SFA said on Monday that the player had assured Burley that his decision was nothing personal when the pair spoke on the telephone that afternoon.

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