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Andy Murray Finally Reveals His View On Scottish Independence

18/09/2014 07:52 BST | Updated 18/09/2014 16:59 BST

It's decision day for Scotland and as voters head to the polls, one of the world's most famous Scots, Andy Murray, has declared his support for team Yes.

The tennis player had previously remained noticeably silent on the issue, but posted a message on Twitter just hours ahead of the polls opening, to state his position.

The furore surrounding the Scottish referendum has reached fever pitch in recent days, with accusations of bullying and intimidation from both sides now dominating the debate.

Although the Scot, who lives in Surrey, received overwhelming support from the Twitteratti, not everyone was thrilled with the sportsman's decision:

His declaration in the early hours of this morning sent social media networks ablaze. By 9am his Twitter message had been re-tweeted more than 10,000 times.

Murray, 27, who hails from Dunblane, Perthshire, joined his brother Jamie who also declared his support for a Yes vote.

Wimbledon champion Andy has been quizzed on the Scottish issue previously but dodged the question, although in an interview in June he did criticise Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond for waving the country's flag at the tournament last year.

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Andy Murray with the Union Jack Flag

Murray will not have a vote as he is not currently resident in Scotland, but he has generally been seen as a firm Scottish nationalist - drumming up controversy in 2006 when he said he would support "anyone but England" in the World Cup.

Last month he told the Guardian that he did not think it looked likely the result would be a Yes, but he added that his preference would be to represent Scotland if the country became independent.

"If Scotland became independent, then I imagine I would be playing for Scotland," he told the newspaper.

"I haven't thought that much about that yet because I don't think it's looking too likely that it's going to happen. But if it did happen, then it would be pretty much the first time in my life that I would have ever (had the chance to play for Scotland)."

He added that he did not like making his views on politics known as previous comments had "caused me a headache ... and a lot of abuse".

Head of Sport for Yes, Michael Stewart, was delighted with the Murrays' last-minute messages of support.

He said: "On the day that Scotland goes to the polls to decide our future, Andy and Jamie Murray's endorsement is a tremendous boost for Yes. To have the backing of the greatest sportsman of our time is absolute proof that Yes is the opportunity of a lifetime for Scotland.

"Fantastic news from fantastic sportsmen. Andy has established himself as an international sporting figure and his support for Yes will resonate around the world."

Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins added: "Andy has been worth waiting for. He has clearly given this a great deal of thought and I am delighted he has decided that Yes is the right way to go for Scotland."

Meanwhile, the polls have opened on a historic day for Scotland as voters determine whether the country should remain part of the United Kingdom.

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A voter arrives at Ritchie Hall polling station in Strichen

More than three years after Salmond's SNP secured a landslide victory at Holyrood, the long-awaited referendum on independence is finally taking place.

Polling stations opened at 7am and people have until 10pm to cast their ballot, with the result expected to be known by breakfast time tomorrow.

The crucial ballot, which could see the 307-year-old union between Scotland and England brought to an end, is expected to go down to the wire, with polls showing the contest is too close to call.

A YouGov survey for The Sun and The Times and a separate poll by Panelbase both found 52% of Scots will to vote to stay in the union, with 48% favouring independence, when undecided voters are excluded.

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A voter arrives at Ritchie Hall

But research by Ipsos-Mori for the broadcaster STV suggested the gap could be even closer, indicating 51% of people will vote No to 49% saying Yes.

After a frenetic final day of campaigning from the rival sides yesterday, the turnout is expected to be high, with 4,285,323 people registered to vote, according to the Electoral Commission.

For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds across the country will be able to take part.

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Scotland Goes To The Polls

The question facing voters is a simple one: Should Scotland be an independent country?

With the momentum in the final weeks of the campaign appearing to be behind the Yes campaign, the leaders of the three main Westminster parties have all pledged to give Scotland more powers if the outcome is No.

But nationalists dismiss this, insisting only a Yes vote will give Scotland the powers it needs.

First Minister Alex Salmond last night closed his campaign at a packed rally in Perth, where he told supporters the referendum is "our opportunity of a lifetime and we must seize it with both hands".

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Salmond speaking at the final YES rally at Perth Concert Hall

The SNP leader said: "This opportunity is truly historic. There are men and women all over Scotland looking in the mirror knowing that the moment has come. It's our choice and our opportunity and our time."

But US president Barack Obama made clear his support for the union in a message on Twitter, saying: "The UK is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united."

Former prime minister Gordon Brown - a leading figure in the No campaign who has been key in securing the fast-tracked pledge for more powers for Holyrood if the result is No - made his own passionate appeal to Scots to vote to stay in the union.

He told a Better Together rally in Glasgow yesterday that the SNP's main aim is to "break every single constitutional and political link with our neighbours and friends in the United Kingdom".

In an electric speech, Brown insisted: "We will not have this."

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