CHARLIE Nicholas may well, in his usual inflammatory manner, have accused Scott McTominay of lacking confidence in his footballing abilities this week by choosing to represent Scotland at international level ahead of England.

And the former Arsenal and Celtic striker might also have rather contentiously suggested the Manchester United midfielder, who qualifies to play for this country through his Helensburgh-born father, may not have made the decision entirely by himself.

Yet, it appears the outspoken Sky Sports pundit is, unlike most of his attempts at goal during his distinguished playing career, well wide of the mark with both assertions

Read more: Manchester United starlet Scott McTominay pledged his future to Scotland not England - thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson​

The 21-year-old, who has started in the last four games for English giants United, including in a Champions League last 16 game against Sevilla over in Spain, has no shortage of self-belief and has made this choice entirely on his own despite his tender age.

He has simply opted to play for Scotland due to the strong feelings which he has for his adopted homeland – where he spent a great deal of time growing up a boy and where he still has many relations.

McTominay’s decision, which has dominated the front and back pages of every national newspaper since it was confirmed at the weekend, has certainly delighted his extended family north of the border.

His grandfather Frank, a sprightly 83-year-old who has followed his career closely since he was a boy, revealed that he first indicated he would pledge his future to them as far back as five years ago

“Scott has always said that he’s more Scottish than he is English,” he said. “That’s true. He said that when he was about 16.

“He attended a get together of English-based players who might be prepared to play for Scotland in Leicester around that time. Mark Wotte was in charge of it and John Collins was his assistant.

“He also came up to Cumbernauld for training sessions after that. But it just died a death after that. The opportunity never arose at any level. He never ever got picked up by any under age groups for caps. But we always had great faith in him.

“When he was younger he said that he felt more Scottish than English. When he got into the United team he big question for me was: ‘Will he choose to play for Scotland?’ But we had no input. We wanted him to make his own decision. No pressure was put on him at all.

“A lot of his relations come from Scotland. We’re all very close. He’s got a lot of connections in Helensburgh both on my wife’s side and on my side as well. A lot of people in Helensburgh are quite chuffed at this.”

There is a reason why McTominay, who is set to be named in the Scotland squad for the friendlies against Costa Rica in Glasgow and Hungary in Budapest later this month by new national team manager Alex McLeish at Hampden on Monday, was never capped at any age-group level and has only suddenly sprung to prominence.

He experienced a remarkable growth spurt as a teenager – he went from being just 5ft 6in to his current height of 6ft 4in in little over a year - and his development understandably stalled during that period.

Read more: Manchester United starlet Scott McTominay pledged his future to Scotland not England - thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson​

“He’s been at Manchester since he was about six years of age,” said his grandfather. “They have been very, very good with him.

“He was very small for a long time. But a few years ago he had a massive growth spurt. He didn’t play any football in that time. He was in the gym working under physiotherapists and doctors.

“When he finished that, Nicky Butt (the former United player who is now head of the academy) came to him and said: ‘Right Scott, you’re going straight into the under-23 side’. He went pretty much right through the season, apart from a few games that he missed with a hip injury, with them and did quite well.”

His assured performances for the youth side last term soon caught the eye of United manager Jose Mourinho who put him on the bench for a game against Swansea City last April and then handed him his debut as a substitute against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and his first start in a game against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in May.

His grandfather said: “The next thing that happened to Scott after that was he, Demetri Mitchell, who is now on loan at Hearts, and Axel Tuanzebe, who is on loan at Aston Villa, went to America in pre-season training.

“He played against Real Madrid, Real Salt Lake, the Norwegian team Valerenga, who he scored a goal against, and Sampdoria.”

McTominay has gone from strength to strength in the 2017/18 campaign. Indeed, he has performed so impressively in his outings for United both domestically and in Europe that he was offered a contract extension that ties him to Old Trafford until 2021 back in October.

The fact that he was preferred to Paul Pogba - the French midfielder who joined United for a then world record £89 million fee from Juventus last summer – by Mourinho in games against Huddersfield and Sevilla last month underline just how well he has fared and how highly he is regarded by his manager.

“Jose Mourinho has done very well with him,” said his grandfather. “He has been very, very good with him indeed. He’s given him a right good run, six games on the trot. He has played against Benfica, CSKA Moscow and Sevilla in Europe this season. I like the way he’s been treated.”

Now McTominay looks poised to take his burgeoning professional career to the next level by representing Scotland. The possibility of him starting in the Nations League games against Albania and Israel later this year and then in the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign next year is an exciting one for supporters.

Read more: Manchester United starlet Scott McTominay pledged his future to Scotland not England - thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson​

His grandfather, who first went to see his country in action at Hampden nearly 70 years ago, admitted that the Costa Rica game on Friday, March 23, will be a proud occasion for his Scottish relations if, as looks a certainty, he is involved.

“We’ll be there,” he said. “I couldn’t say that Scott watched Scotland games as a boy. He has always been more of a player than a watcher. It was just football, football, football with him from a very young age.

“But when I was young I saw all the Scotland B teams. I’m going back quite a bit, to the 1950s. I had a day off from my work on a Wednesday and would go along to watch all the B internationals at Hampden with a friend.

“I saw Duncan Edwards play for England, Trevor Ford and John Charles play for Wales and Willie Woodburn and Jimmy Cowan play for Scotland in those games.

“But the Scottish player who I always liked was Jimmy Johnstone. He really stuck out for me. I saw a lot of Celtic playing at European level at that time. I liked the better stuff.”

Frank McTominay Snr will, then, have enjoyed watching his grandson, whose technical abilities, quick feet, shrewd reading of the game and admirable work rate have earned him great plaudits, in action for United this season.

But he has known about his talent for quite some time. “Whenever Scott came up to Helensburgh he would be battering a ball about the back garden with his cousins,” he said.

“Even when he was five or six he could control and trap the ball from any angle. He had that touch even then.”