BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
LUCA GASPAROTTO insists his proudest moment in a Canada jersey came when he helped his nation claim a historic World Cup point against England – despite being skinned by £50 million man Raheem Sterling.
However, he is adamant that will be eclipsed if he finally makes his long-awaited full debut for the Canucks against Scotland.
The towering Falkirk defender will today be named in the Canada squad alongside Bairns teammate Fraser Aird and, having been in five previous gatherings without getting on the pitch, he is desperate to claim his maiden full cap at Easter Road.
It would be especially poignant coming against the nation where he has carved out a professional career, after making the daunting move from Ontario to Rangers at the age of 16 – before going onto turn out for Airdrie, Morton and Falkirk.
Gasparotto said: “I’ve already had a few great moments for Canada, there have been a few. In the U17s World Cup we drew against England. That was in Mexico back in 2011 and Nathaniel Chalobah and Raheem Sterling were both playing.
“I still have a picture of [Sterling] beating me on a dribble, I am not even ashamed of that!
“It was our first ever point at an Under-17 World Cup. It was a nice piece of history for Canadian football.
“I was also on the bench against Colombia after the World Cup, and James Rodriguez and Falcao were playing, so that was quite exciting although I didn’t get on.
“I have been involved in five [senior] groups now. I have just never made it off the bench. So I am hoping this time is lucky – I think it will be a small squad so there will be a big chance for me to make it onto the pitch. It would be weird, but quite fitting, if it is against Scotland.”
Before Gasparotto and Aird can turn their attention to stunning Gordon Strachan’s side, they will seek to keep the Falkirk bandwagon rolling with a victory over promotion rivals Morton this evening.
Despite being on other sides of a fierce battle to reach the Premiership, Gasparotto will always be grateful for the steep learning curve afforded by his season at Cappielow last term – making 25 appearances under Jim Duffy and toughening up in the rough and tumble of the Championship.
He continued: “I played a lot of games and felt I had a good season. That, ultimately, was what got me a move here. I am very thankful for my time at Morton and I really enjoyed it.
“Jim Duffy was on my case! He put a lot of information to the defenders and tried to help them as much as he could. He got the best out of me last year and it helped me improve, technically and physically.
“When you are playing first team football it is going to be more physical than Under-20 level. These players are playing for bonuses so it is very competitive, very physical. I have come a long way in the last couple of years and I am thankful to Morton last year and Falkirk this year.”