Wed, Aug

COLLIN SAMUEL exploded onto the Scottish scene like TNT three years ago.

Tonight he gets the chance to do the same on the world stage with T&T, just months after his career looked like fizzling out like a damp squib.

The Dundee United striker will come to face to face with Rio Ferdinand and John Terry as the latest chapter in the Caribbean nation's fairytale unfolds in Nuremburg.

Well, he'll be facing them before kick-off but when the action starts his first manager in Scotland believes the English defence will see nothing but the back of Samuel's shirt as he runs away from them.

Ian McCall doesn't think for a minute Trinidad and Tobago will beat England tonight but he believes Samuel can enhance his reputation by giving Sven's central defenders a torrid 90 minutes.

The Queen of the South boss remembers only too well the impact Samuel made in his first six months after he arrived with nothing but a burning desire to carve out a career for himself and in one startling half-hour spell against Hearts in the Scottish Cup, Collin Samuel's dreams came true.

McCall said: "Everyone who saw that game against Hearts thought he was a world b eater. It was an astonishing performance.

"Those weren't bad players he was up against - Craig Gordon, Steven Pressley and Kevin McKenna are regulars for Scotland and Canada and Alan Maybury has played for Ireland. Hearts' other defender that day was Stephane Mahe so none of them were mugs. To be honest he destroyed them that day. He scored a hat-trick in half an hour and we went on to win 4-0."

Samuel had arrived and within months he and McCall were on their way to Dundee United - but the boss had by then detected the striker's sparkle was beginning to fade.

McCall said: "I think he got too much too soon when he came here. I don't mean this in a bad way but Collin was quite an immature boy when he arrived. He was naive and innocent - not at all streetwise.

"Falkirk is quite a small place and when he burst onto the scene he was absolutely idolised because he scored a lot of goals. The attention he got was unbelievable and perhaps it affected him a little bit.

"The other culture shock was his diet. When he came here he was in fantastic physical condition because his diet in the Caribbean had been supplemented with loads of fruit and vegetables.

"Over here it was easy for him to slip out of that way of eating because there are so many alternatives and most aren't very good for you! "When he went up to Dundee United, they paid £90,000 for him which was quite a lot of money and when he was carrying a bit reputation because of what he'd done at Falkirk.

"But he couldn't build on that when he went to United and I must admit when I went to Tannadice there was a time when I was going to let him go. "I have to admit at that point my judgement probably wasn't the best as I was under pressure from a lot of outside influences.

"But he came through the roughest period and last season there were definite signs he was capable of becoming the player we all thought he could be.

He's only 24 and now he's married and has a wee boy so I'm sure that's helped him grow up. That will help his performances over the next couple of years whether it is at United or somewhere else.

"I'd heard at the end of last season that there was a fair amount of interest in him down south, so his career might b e taking off again."

A good show against England will intensify that interest and McCall hopes he produces the goods.

He said: "He's got a great chance to showcase his talents against England and although it'll be tough against the likes of Terry and Ferdinand, his pace can trouble them."