THERE is, despite him spending his entire career in England and only qualifying to play for Scotland through a Bo’ness-born grandfather, little chance of Liam Cooper failing to fully appreciate the significance of representing his adopted homeland.

Cooper, a 24-year-old centre half who was a surprise inclusion earlier this month in Gordon Strachan’s 18 man squad for the friendly against Denmark, plies his trade for Leeds United in the Championship.

It is fair to say the Elland Road club have had a few decent players from this country at the over the years. A statue of the legendary Billy Bremner stands outside the stadium and photographs of Bobby Collins, Eddie and Frank Gray, Joe Jordan, Peter Lorimer, Gordon McQueen, Gary McAllister and Strachan himself and their many achievements adorn the walls.

So the Hullensian will know only too well the illustrious company he will be joining should, as looks like a distinct possibility, he is handed his full international debut at Hampden tomorrow evening.

“I’m obviously well aware of the players who have appeared for Scotland,” said Cooper. “They’re, of course, before my time. But they are thought highly of and their pictures are all over the ground. They are heroes.

“There’s a statue of Billy Bremner outside the ground too. Gordon Strachan’s picture is also on show. We have a pre-match meal in the room above the changing room. There’s photos of the manager there and it’s not hard to notice how short the shorts were back then. There was plenty of leg on display!

“The team the manager was a part of was great side which was full of legends of football. It’s great to be thought of by such a manager to be part of the Scotland squad. You can’t get out of the way of the past involving the manager and the other Scots. It’s everywhere.

“It’s not so much at the training ground. But once you get to Elland Road, it’s an old stadium, there’s pictures everywhere of all the greats. We’re always aware of the link and the success they had.

“It helps provide added inspiration for us when we look at the pictures and see the achievements of the manager and the other great players from the past.

“It’s a great honour for me to be called up to the national squad. I haven’t been involved for a long while now. When I got the call it was a surprise, but I was over the moon about it and my family were very happy. It’s just great to be here.”

Cooper hasn’t donned the dark blue of Scotland since playing for the under-19 team seven years ago and he admitted he was as taken aback as anyone when he received the call-up from Strachan for this outing.

Yet, centre half is a position the national team is not blessed with an abundance of talent in. He is currently playing regularly and performing consistently for a team in the second tier of English football. So, too, do the likes of Grant Hanley, David Marshall and Robert Snodgrass. Who is to say a decent showing won’t enhance his prospects?

“I’d like to say I’m a ball playing centre half,” he said. “I like to step in with the ball, I like to pass the ball. But I also like the other side of defending, getting physical and making tackles and heading. So, yes, hopefully, my style will suit international football and I can’t wait for Tuesday night’s game.

“It’s been really good to be a part of it all and now I’m really hoping I can get my first cap. We had a good training session yesterday, really sharp, and the manager was pleased. We’ve also had a good session at Hampden and now I can’t wait for the game.

“It has been like the first day at school. But I saw the manager as soon as I arrived and he was very good with me. He just told me to do all I can to get picked – and I’ll do that. The lads have been welcoming and they seem to me to be a great bunch of lads."

Cooper continued: “I definitely thought my chance might’ve past. I’d played for the under-17s and under-19s. I wanted to see my international career progressing through with the under-21s. But that wasn’t to happen.

“I left Hull and went to Chesterfield and I had a good two years there. Then Leeds came in for me and it was a no brainer to go there. But at the back of my head I did think my chance of a full call up had probably gone.

“But the manager’s shown with young lads if you’re good enough he’ll call you up. It’s good to know that as a player.”

“I know there’s an opportunity for me to show what I can do. I’m a big believer in hard work never stops. I’ve done well to get the call up, but it doesn’t stop there. Now I’ve got to go and prove myself that I can play at this level.

“I’m a player who will always wear his heart on his sleeve, I’ll always give my all. Hopefully that will show. Hopefully I’ll be given a chance to do that and that I can take that chance.”