Maverick striker Cummings out to join buddy Boyle in Socceroos squad

Scottish born Jason Cummings has aspirations of one day putting on the Socceroos jersey Source: SNS Group

Jason Cummings, prince of pranksters, could be coming to a Socceroos squad near you if Graham Arnold chooses to embrace football’s zaniest character since Gazza.

The maverick Dundee striker has put his tattooed hand up to play for the green and gold, a move which offers succour to those who enjoy their footballers seasoned with a sprinkling of eccentricity.

Eligible to play for the Socceroos through his Australian mother, Cummings played alongside Scottish born Aussie winger Martin Boyle at Easter Road, netting 55 goals in 114 appearances across four seasons.

The two are close, with Boyle urging Cummings - who has two Scotland caps - to explore his inner Aussie.
Not that Edinburgh-born Cummings, 25, has taken much persuading.

“The Boyler is a good mate of mine and we’ve talked a bit about Australia, and how much he loves playing for the Socceroos,” Cummings told The World Game.

“It would be an honour to join him. I played in a couple of friendlies with Scotland, so I’m still eligible for Australia if the chance ever comes along.

“The Boyler tells me being involved with Australia is different class.”

Cummings - whose off-field antics evoke recollections of Paul Gascoigne in prime mischief-maker mode - is at his seventh club in five years, striving to recalibrate a career that has included a Scottish Cup win with Hibernian in 2016.

Dundee v Inverness Caledonian Thistle - Scottish Championship
SNS Group

Former Sydney FC coach Terry Butcher, who gave Cummings his Hibs debut at 18, calls him “mental”.

And Cummings himself believes he “was born in the wrong generation”, looking back wistfully at the ‘80s and early ‘90s when an unfettered Gazza roamed and football seemed more carefree.

With four goals in eight appearances for Scottish Championship promotion chasers Dundee since arriving in January, he believes he’s laying the foundations for a rebound after a frustrating spell in England.

“I’m not sitting here saying I deserve to be playing with Australia right now,” he added.

“I need to earn my stripes and prove myself with my club to hopefully attract their attention.

“There was a bit of interest before and I spoke to a few people about it.

“But my career has been a bit stop-start, and now I’m looking for that wee bit of consistency to show people I can perform at international level.

“Hopefully Australia are still looking out for me. If I get the call I’ll be over there in a heartbeat.”

Cummings was identified by Arnold as a potential target 20 months ago while at Nottingham Forest, the club he joined in 2017 for $2 million.

The move curdled when coach Mark Warburton, who had brought Cummings to the Championship, was sacked.

After loan spells at Rangers, Peterborough and Luton Town, he briefly ignited again for third-tier Shrewsbury, bursting from the bench 14 months ago to score twice in 10 minutes to force a 2-2 draw with mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup.

His form may have fluctuated but his slapstick instincts have rarely missed the mark.

The highlights reel includes a hilarious impromptu video match-up with Scottish wrestler Grado in the Hibernian canteen, where - to a backing track of Madonna’s Like A Prayer - Cummings emerges in his underwear, bandage wrapped around his head and the word ‘Cumdog’ inscribed on his bare chest.

The Hibees physios were the only ones not smiling, with Cummings nursing a back injury at the time.

Looking back on the skit, a YouTube hit, Cummings said: “You need to have a laugh sometimes, don’t ya?

Cummings gate-crashed a live television interview with Shrewsbury teammate Dave Edwards four days after the Liverpool game, strutting past him semi-naked before attempting to duplicate a dance routine from the 2019 movie The Joker starring Joachim Phoenix.

His back catalogue also features him volleying a steak across a restaurant in Dubai, whilst his post-match interviews are invariably peppered with one-liners and a frankness that makes club PR managers wince.

He long admired Gazza for his love of the craic, declaring: “I’m always looking back at his old interviews ... he just was always having a laugh,” he said.

“On the flip side, though, there’s a very serious aspect to football. When it comes to game time there’s not much room for banter.

“That’s when you need to focus and give everything for the team.

“Gazza wouldn’t have got to the top level had he just clowned around every day and didn’t work hard.

“In this day and age, everything is by the book and so professional.

“Football is meant to be about fun and entertainment. I look back to the old days and people enjoyed it more.

“Having a bit of banter in the changing room is what it’s all about as well - that’s what wins titles, I reckon.”

Cummings even inspired a tattoo craze across western Scotland after his inked hand - a toothy smile complete with lips and tongue - caught on during his time at Ibrox.

“I probably should have taken out a copyright on that one,” he deadpanned.

“I was proud to play for such a big club as Rangers, the fans are bonkers.

“I use the tattoo (hand across the face gesture) as my (trademark) goal celebration, so it looks like I’m always smiling.”

A big occasion buff, Cummings notoriously fluffed a Panenka spot-kick in the goalless 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United, only to bury the winning penalty in the shoot-out in what might be the perfect encapsulation of his avant-garde nature.

Though older brother Dean plays for NPL side Sorrento in Perth, Cummings has yet to venture to Australia but says “it would be brilliant” to bring his boots and banter to the A-League at some point.

“I’ve got an Australian passport and I’m choking to get over there, even if I don’t get a call-up,” he added.

“I’m only 25 and I’ve got plenty of time still in my career to make that move. I’d love to do that.”

Asked if Perth-born mum Tracey wanted him to play for the country she left aged seven, he replied: “She loves football and is really just a massive Jason Cummings fan and supports me in everything.

“I think she’d be delighted if I played for Australia, my grandparents as well. They’d be buzzing for that. Same with my brother.”