Line of Duty star Martin Compston was pro footballer before turning to acting

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Line of Duty star Martin Compston used to be a professional footballer before his acting career took off.

These days, the Scottish actor is best known for his role as DS Steve Arnott in the hit BBC drama.

But it wasn’t too long ago that Compston was patrolling the 18-yard box instead of the corridors at AC-12.

In a fledging football career, the tough-talking 36-year-old had spells with both Aberdeen and Morton.

He even played two senior matches for Morton at the end of the 2001/02 season, but without much success.

His first appearance came in a 4-0 defeat against Alloa Athletic, while his second – another 4-0 defeat, this time against Queen of the South – saw Morton relegated from the Scottish Second Division.

Speaking on Si Ferrys’s Open Goal podcast , Compston opened up on his short-lived football career, and how he was first spotted while playing in a Scottish underage cup final against a Celtic side which contained future Man Utd star Darren Fletcher.

After a spell with his hometown club, he was signed by Aberdeen where he played alongside future Premier League ace Dean Windass.

Compston was even captain of the Aberdeen youth team for a short time, but the actor knew when his time was up at the club.

"I remember I was captain at a game and one of the top scouts came down, and we got beat off an East Kilbride select.

"I went, 'that's that f*****!'"

After leaving Aberdeen, Compston returned to Morton following the club’s relegation to the Scottish Second Division.

“It just wasn’t a good time to be at the club. They’d just gone down to the second division and we were struggling.

“It was a mad time. We were full-time the YTS [Youth Team Scholarship] players. There was only three or four of us cleaning 40 pairs of boots and cleaning the stadium.

“The first team were coming in training at night. There was a lot of hanging about. I felt more like a cleaner than a football player.

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  • “I made my debut when I was 17. We were away to Alloa. I knew they were only going to pitch me in if we were well up or well down.

    “I felt terrible, Alloa were winning 2-0 with 40 minutes left and they put a third one in and I was like, ‘You beauty’.

    “The last game of the season, we had to win to stay up and we were playing Queen of the South who had to win to win the league. It was a sell-out, 14,000. The atmosphere was unbelievable.

    “There was some b******…At half-time, I knew I was going on. So I’m spraying balls about.

    “It smashed somebody and he’s run on and rugby tackled me. The stewards were just all laughing.

    “It was nerve-wracking. It was Scottish second division football but it’s like, ‘You’ve done that’.”

    Compston made his first foray into the world of acting in a Ken Loach film called Sweet Sixteen. Remarkably, he was still at Morton when it was filmed.

    "It worked out perfect," said Compston. "I’d just finished my exams and I’d got my Morton contract. The auditions were at the end of the year.

    “I went to [Morton manager] Peter Cormack and asked if it was alright to miss a couple of days of pre-season. We filmed it in the close season.

    “He said, ‘You’re a fit boy, you’ll be fine’. I finished filming and went back to Greenock Morton.

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    "I remember being gutted because in the programme notes, the players were asked who’s their favourite actor and not one of them said me. I thought one of them, for a joke, would throw my name in there!”

    Loach, though impressed by Compston’s acting ability, advised the young Scotsman to stick to football.

    But the Line of Duty star didn’t heed that advice and auditioned for a Heartbeat spin-off called The Royal .

    Despite being sent the wrong script, the Scottish actor got the part and from then on his mind was set.

    “That was a big wake-up call,” Compston said. “They don’t know who I am. They hadn’t seen Sweet Sixteen. To get that, I said, ‘OK, I’m alright at this’.

    "Morton weren’t going through the best of times. I was driving up the road one day, passing Cappielow [Greenock Morton’s stadium] and I just went in and said [to manager Dave McPherson], ‘I think I’m going to give this acting a crack’.

    “He said, ‘Sorry to lose you', but I didn’t find it too hard to be honest."

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    • Celtic FC
    • Line of Duty
    • Scottish Premiership
    • BBC

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