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Fulton comes face to face with family ties

LIVERPOOL goalkeeper Ryan Fulton was stunned when he turned up at the Scotland Under-19 team hotel to prepare for the elite round of European Championship qualifying in England and met a long-lost relative.

Ryan Fulton's family hail from Paisley. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Ryan Fulton's family hail from Paisley. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Scotland are in a four-team group and kick off their campaign against Ukraine in Burton-on-Trent on Saturday. Ricky Sbragia's exciting group includes Dundee United pair Ryan Gauld and John Souttar, as well as Celtic's Liam Henderson, and they face an Auld Enemy clash with England on Monday before rounding off the tournament against Montenegro next Thursday.

The winners of the group will qualify for the finals in Hungary later this summer and Sbragia's group will be looking to emulate Scot Gemmill's boys, who reached the Under-17 semi-finals earlier this week in Malta.

In goal will be Liverpool 18-year-old Fulton, who was handed a three-year contract with the Premier League runners-up last year. He was born and brought up in Burnley but his father, Brian, hails from Paisley and he received a surprise when he checked in at the team hotel in Cumbernauld yesterday.

He said: "I was born in Burnley, but I can play for Scotland through my dad and my grandparents. Scotland obviously got wind of it and called me up at an early age.

"I first played at 15 for the Victory Shield squad and it's always been Scotland for me. I'm happy here and I don't see myself changing in the future. It was natural for me to play for Scotland. My dad is very proud that I've chosen Scotland - he loves it. Everywhere I go, he comes along.

"I've got an extended family up in Scotland and I actually met one of my aunties, Alison, today for the very first time. Amazingly, she works in the hotel we're staying at.

"The last time she saw me I was just a baby. But my dad rang her today and it turns out she works in this hotel. I bumped into her and it's the first time I've ever met her. It was mad meeting her, really weird. I literally just bumped into her walking through the hotel."

Fulton, who rejected overtures to play for England, said he had received plenty of encouragement from senior custodians at Anfield.

"I play for the club's Under-21 team but I train with the first team and I've spent a bit of time in and around them. Maybe next season I'll get out on loan to play some games. But Simon Mignolet and Brad Jones are always giving me good advice. They give me tips on how I can improve and on match preparation, stuff like that," he said.

"Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez are no different to any other player, they're really down to earth. When you go in, they greet you, say hello and ask how you're doing.

"They have a laugh and they're just like any of the other lads."

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