GORDON STRACHAN used to refer to it regularly during his time as Scotland manager. In assessing why our opponents always seemed to be stronger or faster than his own plucky troops he liked to point towards that particular nation’s colonial past, particularly if they had roots that extended deep into Africa. A lack of Scottish wanderlust was often to blame for failing to produce players of a similar physical stature.

That’s only half the story, of course. For as the latest episode of self-flagellation unfolds after the national team failed to beat a World Cup quarter-finalist and the best team on the planet, the issues of emigration and immigration are certainly worth putting back under the spotlight.

Scotland may not have conquered many corners of the world in years gone by but nationality remains a fluid concept. And if other countries are putting that to their advantage in the sporting arena, are we missing a trick by not doing the same?

Immigration remains a hot topic all across Europe. The make-up of the continent has changed immeasurably as migrant trails from Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East become heavily populated with those seeking refuge and a better life.

That influx has undoubted led to tension in many of the affected nations but there have been benefits, too. Look through the line-ups of the German national team over the years and they are awash with players who either weren’t born in the country or had parents who moved there. Miroslav Klose, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez and Jerome Boateng are just some of the names to have racked up hundreds of international caps and all with a multi-cultural heritage.

Same of France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and others. Even England have benefited, with current poster boy Raheem Sterling born in Jamaica and raised in London.

But Scotland? Virtually nothing. Our national teams remain mostly the preserve of pasty white faces. It does not reflect well on a supposedly inclusive nation that there is so little diversity to be found when it comes to our national game.

Granted, the numbers arriving on these shores are smaller than have ended up in mainland Europe or even across the border in England. But there have still been thousands of migrants setting up home in Scotland for a half century or longer and yet are nowhere to be seen when it comes to augmenting our football talent pool.

It remains a mystery why so few footballers of Scots-Asian descent have made it through to elite level given the number of families that have settled in this country from the Subcontinent in particular. Jazz Juttla was a youth player at Rangers who ended up featuring for Morton, while Mo Yaqub came through at Celtic and played sporadically for St Mirren. But beyond them there are very few others to have graced the professional game.

Given Scots-Asians are prevalent in domestic cricket and boxers like Pakistan-born Kash Farooq and rising amateur Aqeel Ahmed are making a name for themselves, why are we not seeing similar in football? Perhaps that can be partially attributed to family and cultural preferences rather than external barriers but, regardless, an entire swathe of adopted Scots are not finding their way into our sporting system.

If football is not the preferred national sport of India and Pakistan, then the same can’t be said for Poland and other Eastern European countries whose citizens have also wound their way over to Scotland to seek a better life.

Where are the first or second-generation Poles and Czechs? It seems hard to believe they are not out there kicking a ball the same as every other football-daft boy or girl in the country.

And yet a quick scan through Scotland team sheets down the age groups on any international date reveals precious few names that hint at a family tree not contained within these borders. The same applies to the number of Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanistanis who have ended up in Scotland due to conflict and other trouble at home. Are we failing to integrate them adequately into Scottish life?

Granted, this may be more of a societal than a sporting issue but, as the debate begins again on the struggles of our men’s national football team, it must count as a failure that we have been unable to mirror our European neighbours by integrating the large migrant populations that have arrived from overseas and ended up making a new life here. They are as Scottish as the rest of us.

The Scottish FA in fact, need to be pragmatic and extend the net as wide as they can. Gordon Smith, their former chief executive, introduced the ruling that allows British passport holders to represent any of the home nations providing they have been educated in the country for five years. That allowed Jordan Rhodes to play for Scotland but didn’t do much more to enhance the depth of options.

Perhaps they also ought to now ask the other home nations to reinstate the FIFA ruling that requires that a player only has to spend two years living in a country to be eligible for the national team to further bolster our options.

That approach won’t sit well with many in the Tartan Army. But after 21 years without qualifying for a major competition, it is maybe time to start considering every option.