Belfast Telegraph

Capaldi set for his Northern Ireland debut

A MAN born in Norway with a father from Scotland playing for Northern Ireland may sound strange to most, but not Tony Capaldi.

A MAN born in Norway with a father from Scotland playing for Northern Ireland may sound strange to most, but not Tony Capaldi.

The Plymouth Argyle man was called into the senior international squad for the first time last week and with Lawrie Sanchez naming an experimental panel and with so many call offs, he will likely win his first cap against Estonia on Wednesday night.

He travels to Tallinn with a squad missing seven of the players who started Sanchez's first match against Norway last month.

The name may sound more Neopolitan than Northern Irish, but the left- sided player can't wait to swap the green shirt of his club for that of his adopted country.

"The call-up came out of the blue really," admitted Capaldi.

"I am excited about it though and am looking forward to meeting up with the squad on Sunday.

"Obviously Lawrie Sanchez is looking to the future and trying to build a young squad and I will be hoping to make an impression in Estonia."

Despite that mixed background Capaldi obvioulsy has some Northern Ireland blood coursing through his veins.

"My grandmother was from Limavady. I still have some have relatives there but don't really keep in touch," he said.

"I know I'm probably the only person born in Norway ever to play for Northern Ireland.

"My dad played as well and I was born while he was having a spell in Norway and I grew up in Birmingham."

The Northern Ireland scene is nothing new to Capaldi who joined Argyle last summer after seven years on Birmingham City's books.

He is a former under-18 international and was also a regular in the under-21 side before the Northern Ireland side at that level went by the wayside.

A regular spot in the first-team at Division Two leaders Plymouth has helped Capaldi's international ambitions and with seven league goals this season he could be a valuable asset to Sanchez.

"If I had still been at Birmingham I probably wouldn't have been picked for the Northern Ireland squad," he said.

"We are doing well at Plymouth and are hoping to get promoted but there is still a little bit of work to be done.

"I suppose with the team doing well we have received a bit of publicity and that has probably helped me."

A change of position too has been a help to Capaldi.

"When Paul Sturrock who was manager of Plymouth at the time came to watch me at the end of last season, I was playing left midfield and that is where I have stayed all season," he added.

"I have scored a few goals too and I think as long as I stay at Plymouth that is where I will play.

"I am happy to play at left-back too and have played centre-half as well but that isn't my favourite position.

"If I am playing in the First Division next season against better players, then hopefully my own game can develop too and I can establish myself in the Northern Ireland squad."

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