You are about to play in a World Cup in Brazil…how excited are you?
I’m very excited, you don’t get much bigger than a World Cup in Brazil. It’s something that as a kid you dream about and I can only count myself very lucky to be a part of it. You never know when it will be your last World Cup so I want to perform and make the most of it. Some of the past tournaments haven’t gone to plan and I’m the first to admit that and it’s something I want to change. I’m in a happy place at the moment and really enjoying the camp and all the build up. I never really enjoyed some of the last tournaments for different reasons like missing my family and sometimes maybe the pressure got to me but this isn’t something that is going to get in my way here. I’m ready for this and can’t wait to get started.
England are in a group with Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay, how do you feel about this?
It’s definitely a tough group with some good teams but then again every game at a World Cup is difficult. Italy are very hard to beat and always turn up at the big tournaments, Uruguay have some quality players and Costa Rica won’t be coming to make up the numbers so we have to be fully prepared for every game. I don’t feel that our preparations could have went any better, we’ll be going into each game confident and looking to win.
Who do you think are the teams to watch out for in this tournament?
There are the obvious teams that will be going in as favorites like Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany but there are a few other good teams that could surprise a few people like Belgium and Chile who were impressive when we played them at Wembley. Anyone can win this World Cup though, you need to go into every game with the same mentality. It would be a massive mistake to underestimate anyone.
This is not the most experienced squad you have been a part of, does this worry you?
This doesn’t worry me at all because this is probably the best squad I have been a part of. Some of the young players that have come in have been brilliant and fitted right in and along with some of the more experienced players I think there’s a lot of balance. There is a lot of competition for places which is only a good thing as it shows the depth we have in the squad and for the manager to have many different options is a good thing.
How has the training camp been?
As I said before I don’t think the camp could have gone any better. From the first week in Portugal all the players clicked and there’s been a good buzz around the squad since then. The training sessions have been brilliant and having had the warm weather training over the last few weeks means we should be able to adapt to the conditions well.
How confident is the team going into the first game against Italy tomorrow in Manaus?
It’s obviously going to be tough game against a good side and we know that, but we also know that we have a lot of quality ourselves so we will be going into the game confident. There’s been a lot of talk about the humidity and the pitch here in Manaus but both sides will have to play in the same conditions so this is not something we are thinking about. All the lads are ready and up for it so we’re just looking forward to getting out there!
Will your boys be cheering you on?
I’m sure they will be. Klay is too young to know what’s going on but Kai is starting to understand and he has a few England football kits. Hopefully they will be coming out to watch a game and knowing my family will be in stands will be another reason to drive me on and give it everything.
Is Brazil what you thought it would be and what is the atmosphere like?
We haven’t got to see lots of Brazil but what I have seen it’s a great place. Our training pitch in Rio was right on the sea front surrounded by the mountains with the Christ the Redeemer statue on top – I don’t think there would be many better places in the world to train. The atmosphere has slowly been building since we got here and last night was great. We sat down to watch the Brazil v Croatia game and when the Brazil goals went in there were fireworks everywhere; it got all the lads even more excited.
Finally, what would you see as being successful at this World Cup?
Success to me is winning trophies, this is what has motivated me through my whole career at club level and for England. We have come here to win this World Cup and that’s the only thing in our minds, and I know it would be the biggest achievement of my career but that’s what dreams are there for.