GORDON STRACHAN accepts international football is no longer the pinnacle of a player's career, overshadowed by the Champions League and even the Barclays Premier League.

But the man who won 50 caps for Scotland has challenged the players now in his charge to find the motivation within to serve their country with distinction and start to restore this nation's pride.

That heeling process begins tonight in the friendly against Estonia at Pittdodrie.

By this morning, 14,000 tickets had been sold, and Strachan is hopeful even more will visit the SFA's website to buy briefs, or pay at the door at Pittodrie.

In the wake of Craig Levein's troubled reign, he is not promising any instant miracle.

But neither does he sense any despondency within the squad, and wants to see every player show the passion which should come naturally when wearing the Dark Blue shirt.

Strachan said: "It's a new regime, but it's still the same players. I have told them it doesn't matter what has been said by the media and others, it is down to them.

"I've said to them, 'Whatever motivates you, if you don't like what the press are saying, and you want to show them, then do that'.

"If they want to do it for their family, do that. If they want to do it to progress and maybe go to a bigger club, do that.

"But you have to have something that motivates you, and it has to come from inside you.

"I know that, as I got older, I'd heard all the team talks before. There was nothing new.

"I'd heard different National Anthems before games, I'd heard music on the coach on the way to games. It didn't make any difference to me. It comes from inside."

Not that Strachan will not be trying to push all the right buttons before sending his men into action tonight.

He is honest enough to admit, however: "It's easier for a manager to motivate younger players. Older ones have been about forever, and it can be harder with them, so they have to do it for themselves.

"Also, the problem with motivation in this job is that some of them play in the Barclays Premier League and the Champions League, and that is a huge, huge thing now.

"That has overtaken international football. When I played, there was nothing bigger than international football.

"Now there is, and I'm afraid that's the way it goes.

"That's not the case for everyone, of course, because they are not all playing at that level. But one way or another, I've got to send these players back to their clubs not feeling bad about themselves.

"And I know from my time as a club manager how important this is."