Nobody Forgets A Cheat
Updated Friday, 3rd September 2010
Saulius Mikoliunas will be given a special reception by Scotland fans if he takes the field tonight in Kaunus
Lithuania midfielder Saulius Mikoliunas knows he is in for a hard time from visiting fans if he plays in tonight's EURO2012 qualifier against Scotland in Kaunas. Scotland fans will remember that the then Hearts midfielder threw himself to the ground when confronted with Darren Fletcher's outstretched leg during a European Championship qualifier at Hampden in 2007. He won a penalty, despite a complete lack of contact, that allowed Lithuania to equalise. Despite this setback, Scotland went on to win the game 3-1. However, the incident proved to be life-changing for Mikoliunas as a two-game UEFA suspension proved to be just the start of some serious consequences for his dive. Mikoliunas felt his reputation meant he was not awarded the free-kicks he deserved in domestic games and he left for Arsenal Kiev after being jeered by opposition fans during every game. He said: "I knew it was going to happen, I know it's not a nice thing when players do that. I just took the criticism. But it made it a bit hard for me to stay in Scotland. I had bad treatment from the referees, I said to myself I needed a change. It's not acceptable to dive in all countries, but it happens".
The wide midfielder thought it was hypocritical to condemn him but ignore Kenny Miller's handball in the run-up to his goal during the opening qualifier in Kaunas four years ago, which Scotland won 2-1. Mikoliunas went on: "I thought that was also unfair because he scored the second goal, he played the ball with his hand and nobody spoke about that". The player - and the incident - was still the subject of the most attention during his team's pre-game media conference but he will try to put it out of his mind tonight. He said: "I feel more confident now. I will concentrate on my job on the pitch if I'm playing. I'm not thinking about that, I don't want to lose focus. I will prepare myself as I do for every game. We had a good game at Hampden and also the previous game here in Kaunas, we had good chances. Unfortunately we got beat but tomorrow I hope our time will come."
Meanwhile, Lithuania striker Tomas Danilevicius dismissed suggestions he would capitalise on the lack of youth of Scotland defender Davie Weir, as the 40-year-old prepares to become Scotland's oldest international. The Livorno striker, who is 32, said: "I think that now in football it's not such a big difference with young or old players. If he is playing for the national team he must be professional and worthy of his place. I believe it will be difficult to play against him because of his previous experience."
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