Alan Hutton Recalls How Playing for Scotland Saved Him at Aston Villa

Alan Hutton’s Scottish Salvation

Alan Hutton’s time at Aston Villa will always be remembered for his never-say-die attitude and his phoenix from the flames rebirth. During the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons, Hutton was a card carrying member of Paul Lambert’s bomb squad, exiled from the Aston Villa first team and forced to train with the youth team.

Hutton didn’t make a single appearance for Villa for two seasons, instead he had to go out on loan to Nottingham Forest, Mallorca and Bolton during that time. For the former Villa right-back, it was his 20 caps for the national team over the period that ultimately proved a motivating lifeline for him.

“It definitely saved my head, that’s for sure,” said Hutton, in a recent interview with Betway Insider ahead of the England vs Scotland Euro 2020 game.

“I was having a difficult time at Aston Villa, but it was during a period where there were so many international games.

“It took a lot of determination while at Villa to prepare for international duty, whether that be training with the kids or in the gym.

“But it gave me something to focus on and kept me on the right path.”

The Scottish Cafu, as he was fondly called at Villa, adds that the Scotland boss at the time, played a big part in keeping his career alive.

“I owe such a lot to Gordon Strachan. Every single time I joined up with the squad, I’d played no minutes for Aston Villa but would start every game,” he says.

“I’ve had some good managers, but I needed something to focus on during a difficult time and Scotland was it, it really kept my mental health in check.

“I think that a lot of my top performances came around then because I could give everything in every single game and not have to worry about Villa or what my form would be like for them.

“I’ve told him on numerous occasions what he’s done for me, but he probably doesn’t realise it was such a big part of my life at the time.

“I’m very thankful for him.”

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Scotland vs England

Hutton, while obviously excited to see the Scotland team back in a major tournament and locking horns with England tonight, feels a little regret for not having played at a major tournament himself for his national team.

“It’s amazing to see Scotland in a major tournament, but it’s difficult for me at the same time,” he says.

“When I look back at my career, I think I have done some decent things, but not being able to play for Scotland at a Euros or World Cup is a bit of a blow.

“It would have ranked very high in my career, but it’s the one big thing that I’ll never be able to experience.”

Hutton did though get to experience playing England at Wembley in Scotland’s 3-2 defeat in 2013.

“Thinking back, that was probably one of the games that I did feel a little bit nervous about,” reflects Hutton.

“When you play for Scotland, the fans are normally very forgiving. There wasn’t ever really any expectation other than giving your all for the shirt.

“But that changes against England, the mentality flips. This is a game they expect you to win.”

You can see the full interview here