Belfast Telegraph

Scotland forward Steven Naismith relishes Aiden McGeady reunion

By Gavin McCafferty

Scotland forward Steven Naismith will have no problem renewing his rivalry with new-found friend Aiden McGeady when the latter lines up for the Republic of Ireland tomorrow night.

McGeady’s return to Celtic Park is one of the intriguing aspects of the Euro 2016 qualifier. The former Hoops player lined up against Naismith in Old Firm derbies but their rivalry stretches back even further to the days when the players, both of whom are 28, faced each other in boys’ football.

Both players’ will to win makes them spiky characters on the pitch — Naismith is not shy of moaning to referees and opponents while McGeady once had a physical disagreement with Celtic team-mate Neil Lennon on the park.

But Naismith’s character off the pitch could not be more pleasant — he spent yesterday lunchtime promoting an initiative in Glasgow that helps injured war veterans return to civilian life and employment.

Naismith and McGeady have struck up a friendship off the park after the latter joined him at Everton earlier this year, but they will revert to being fierce opponents tomorrow.

Naismith said: “We have renewed that for the last year when we spoke about old times when we have played against each other, and in training as well.

“It will just be another one to add to the collection of bragging rights.

“Even guys that I have probably not played much against, they have an idea of what you are meant to be like and they form an opinion.

“Over time, when you become friends, that opinion changes a lot. I have certainly done it with players.

“But it’s the usual, when you go out on the park you want to win more than anything else.

“You know the feeling of playing for Scotland and you dream about it as a kid and you have the opportunity to do it.

“All the friendship goes out the window until the end of the game.

“But he’s a top quality player and someone we will need to watch.

“Even for Everton, he maybe started a bit slow but over the past month he has probably played his best football for Everton. He will be a threat.”

Belfast Telegraph

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