Robert Green gets chance to make amends
Goalkeeper Robert Green is ready to grab his second chance of World Cup glory with England - and put the nightmare of 2006 behind him. Green was still a Norwich City player four years ago when a freak injury cost him his place in Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad just days before the finals in Germany.
Goalkeeper Robert Green is ready to grab his second chance of World Cup glory with England - and put the nightmare of 2006 behind him.
Green was still a Norwich City player four years ago when a freak injury cost him his place in Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad just days before the finals in Germany.
The memory of the night he suffered a severe groin injury taking a goal-kick in a B international against Belarus at Reading has taught him to take nothing for granted in football.
But after being named yesterday in national tream boss Fabio Capello's squad of 23 for the finals in South Africa, starting in nine days'time, the 30-year-old West Ham 'keeper is determined to savour every minute of a fresh opportunity on the world stage.
Green, in Norwich yesterday to open Norfolk FA's Football Development Centre, said: "That incident highlighted how precarious a position your life can be, in terms of opportunities and things like that coming around. Now it could be your last World Cup, so you must take advantage and take everything on board and really enjoy it.
"It means everything. I've been playing in goal for probably 22 years of my life, well over two thirds of it, and you're working towards a certain goal. It's going to be something like the World Cup. I hope it's going to be a tremendous occasion and it's something everyone in the squad is looking towards."
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Green, who has started eight of England's last 11 internationals, has a much better chance of being involved in the finals under Capello than he would have done as Eriksson's number three selection. But he does not see a clear favourite for the goalkeeperjersey when England kick off their campaign against the USA on June 12.
"It's one in three at the moment," he said. "You can't take any sort of stance on it, you just have to do your utmost, you can't take anything for granted. I hope I can just do as much as I can within training and, I hope, impress enough to get an opportunity. It promotes a friendly but strong rivalry between the 'keepers and we know that every training session, every game, every opportunity we've got we've got to take that chance. That can only promote people being on top form for the finals.
"It's something we really have to take as a positive. Whoever is going to be playing will have to be playing well to keep the other two guys out, so in that respect the other two guys will support the 'keeper in possession of the shirt. It's for the good of the country, there's no real selfish agenda in this. We want to do well for the country and that's the main thing."
On three of their last four World Cup appearances, England have been eliminated on penalties, a shoot-out also ending their Euro Championship hopes in 1996 and 2004. Green could have a pivotal role to play in such a scenario, but is hoping England can progress without such drama. He said: "It's going to be tight. Over recent tournaments for England it's been a pretty fine line, something that has been decided by penalties mostly, or fluke goals, over recent World Cups and European Championships, so for us to go into it and think there are any clear favourites or anything like that would be pretty na�ve.
"But to go in full of confidence and be fully prepared is the main thing. Enough has been said about waiting to win it. As long as we go out there and give everything we can I'm sure we will be up there with the best of them."
He described Capello as "great to work under", adding: "He's a direct manager, he's fairly clear in how he wants the team to play and fairly honest and up front about how he puts it across and communicates with you. In that respect, it's a pleasure to work under him. You're a professional footballer who's playing at the top of the game and you have confidence in your own ability and you wouldn't be there otherwise."