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Webster grateful to Italian coach

If Simon Webster's lightening pace proves to be a decisive factor in this weekend's clash against Italy in Rome, then Scotland's ecstatic fans will be indebted in no small way to a man who hails from the country their team has just defeated.

As a promising schoolboy centre, Webster realised he needed to work on his speed if he was going to fully realise his potential.

So he went to see a sprint coach called Sergio Paretti - an Italian who has worked with several high-profile footballers including Boudewijn Zenden, Franck Queudrue and Massimo Maccarone.

''I was about 16 and I was playing inside centre for Yarm School.

''I found I was making a lot of breaks but I wasn't finishing many of them off because I was getting caught - which was frustrating, so I decided to do something about it,'' explained the 27-year-old Edinburgh star.

''I knew Sergio through a family friend and he agreed to help me out.

''He took me to the Clairville Stadium in Middlesbrough and did some speed work, and it was a real insight into what I was doing wrong.

''I really felt that my speed improved massively from then on.

''I don't think it is rocket science. Sprint coaches work on things like form, technique and trying to make your running a little bit more efficient - because there is a hell of a lot of effort going into it and not all of it is necessarily producing the best results.

''In the first session we did he started by getting me to run 50 metres at almost full pace.

''So I took off down the track and at the end thought that I had been pretty quick.

''I was expecting him to be really impressed, but he told me that I ran like an ape and that it was going to take quite a lot of time.

''But within one summer holiday I went from being not even in the top 10 in my year speed-wise to being in the top two or three - and we had some really quick guys, like Anthony Elliot who plays for Bristol, at the school.'

''In the past I have thought sometimes about where I'd be now if I hadn't gone to Sergio.''