GORDON Strachan has admitted he is baffled that Ikechi Anya plays only in the Sky Bet Championship when he could be at a club in the Barclays Premier League or with Celtic in the SPFL Premiership.

Anya's goal against Germany in Dortmund on Sunday night - which briefly levelled the score against the world champions before Scotland conceded again to lose 2-1 - delivered the most thrilling moment of Strachan's 21 months in charge.

The goal meant so much to the 26-year-old Watford attacker that he made a self-deprecating joke about it on Twitter, posting a message that he had previously struggled against even the computer game version of the great German goalkeeper. "I scored past Manuel Neuer! I can't even do that on Fifa."

Anya was born in Glasgow's Castlemilk and has played for 10 clubs, but none of them in Scotland. Nor has he played top-flight football in England. His fabulous goal against Neuer came in his fifth game of the season. Against Rotherham, Doncaster, Leeds and Huddersfield he did not score, yet he has been a major presence in the Scotland set-up since breaking through 12 months ago.

"The coaching staff scratch our heads at times and wonder why he is not playing in the English Premier League," said Strachan. "It's not mugs he's playing against here [in international fixtures]: it's Germany, Croatia, Belgium and England. The Macedonians were no mugs either [last September] and he scored against them too."

"There is no doubt about it. He could go to a Celtic or to a club in the English Premier League no bother. He can play different positions which makes him even more valuable. He can play on the left as he did against Germany, he can play on the right side, he can even play left-back. He has not got a problem with any of them. And he has a love for the game which is so refreshing.

"I think he's worked so hard to get to where he is right now that he doesn't want to lose it. His personality is really infectious. Every morning myself and the staff are the first ones up for breakfast. We make sure of it. Sometimes we are even there before breakfast opens up. But every morning Ikechi is the first player through those doors. Always.

"Never fails. He looks like he's a guy who can't wait to get out of his bed in the morning, to go training and to meet people.

"Other ones trawl in at different times but his personality is: right, I want to make the most of what I've got. Maybe it's because he came into professional football so late on in life. You have to take a few knocks in life to appreciate what you've got and that might be the case with him. He has felt pressure - he knows how that feels - and now every day it's like he thinks he's won a prize just to be there training with us.

"When he was running through I thought to myself 'right, you've just sprinted for 30 yards and now you're up against the best goalie in the world'. But he stuck it away as if it was in a training game. You look at him and a number of the players over the last two years and you can see that we're in pretty good shape."

Scotland are joint bottom of Group D after the first round of fixtures, although of course the hardest match of the campaign is now out of the way. Poland and the Republic of Ireland are level with the Germans on three points, with Scotland, Georgia and Gibraltar on zero.

Scotland's next games are at home to Georgia and away to Poland on October 11 and 14 respectively.