DANNY MURPHY: My England career will always be tinged with regret but I am so proud I was given a chance to play a part in the wonderful history
- I virtually floated in to collect my cod and chips when I was first called up
- It’s impossible to describe how making my debut against Sweden made me feel
- I only won nine caps but I still get an enormous sense of pride at my role
I had just parked outside my favourite chippy in Chester when I got a call from Michelle Farrar in the FA’s operations team to say I’d been called into my first England squad. It was an amazing moment and I virtually floated in to get my cod and chips!
I can’t describe how making my debut against Sweden made me feel, watched on by my family. Although my international career is tinged with ‘I should have done more’ – I won nine caps – I still get an enormous sense of pride when I visit my Mum’s house and my shirt from that first international is hanging on the wall.
I’m sure I’ll get that feeling again amid the pomp and ceremony of England’s 1,000th game on Thursday night. I was one of the fortunate ones to wear the Three Lions.
I still get an enormous sense of pride when I look back on my nine caps for England
People ask me if I regretted not playing for the Republic of Ireland instead through my family background, more caps and maybe playing alongside Roy Keane at a World Cup, but I can honestly say no. It wouldn’t have felt the same for me as representing England.
I should have gone to a World Cup of course. I was called into the 2002 squad when my room-mate Steven Gerrard had to pull out to have an operation on a long-standing injury. In the final training session in Korea, I landed awkwardly going for a header and broke my foot. I ended up on holiday in Portugal, watching the other lads in Japan, you can imagine the mixture of wishing them well and deep personal regret.
Waiting in the team hotel for the results of the scans, deep down knowing I was going to miss out on a World Cup, was really difficult. I got a lot of sympathetic hugs and pats on the shoulders when you just wanted to crawl into a hole.
My boyhood dream was to play for Liverpool. Being an England player just seemed so distant, it wasn’t even an ambition. Once I’d established myself at Anfield and it looked possible I could represent my country, of course it became an extra focus.
There is a deep sense of satisfaction I was given a chance to play a part, even a small one
I was lucky that a lot of my club team-mates, Stevie, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, were around the camp. It made acclimitisation easier for me because, daft as it sound, that first training session is nerve-racking. You want to impress your peers.
Robbie actually set up my only England goal, against Paraguay, though my shot took a deflection so there were no wild celebrations from me.
There won’t be wild celebrations from me this week either – but there will be a deep sense of satisfaction that I was given the chance to play a part, even if it was a very small part, in this country’s wonderful football history.
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