Clyne ready for England chance

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Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Amongst the images on Nathaniel Clyne’s heavily-tattooed arms is a toddler clutching a football.

The picture is of himself aged three and accompanies the inscription ‘baller from birth’ – ink which acts as both reminder and inspiration as the right-back prepares to make his England debut 20 years on.

Called-up by Roy Hodgson for the second time, the 23-year-old is this week set to be rewarded for his fine form at Southampton with a first Three Lions cap in either the Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia or the mouth-watering friendly in Scotland.

“It’s a good feeling for me to be here,” Clyne said. “I’m buzzing. It’s a great achievement.

“I’m buzzing, my family are buzzing and my friends are buzzing. I’m just looking forward to my first cap.”

Representing England recognises the impressive strides made by the south Londoner, who started as a striker at the Afewee Academy in Brixton.

His desire to drop back and retrieve the ball saw him converted to winger and then full-back during a three-year spell at Tottenham – a club he left for Crystal Palace aged 14 after deciding the journey to training was too much.

Clyne eventually moved on to Saints to launch his Premier League career, but it is south London rather than the south coast which remains home.

Amidst the intricate images inked on his arms is a tattoo of the Stockwell tube sign, below which is the striking picture of a child holding a football.

“That is me as a baby with the football,” Clyne explained.

“I actually have a picture of it in my mum’s house as a baby holding a football, so thought it would be good to get it written on my arm.

“I was about three in the photo. It is good, from the get-go I always wanted to be a footballer.

“I followed my brother, he played football in the park and stuff, so I used to follow him and play with his mates.”

Family clearly means a lot to Clyne, with the proud south Londoner describing his mother as his biggest influence.

A regular at her son’s games, she cried when he was called up to the senior England squad for the first time last month – a reaction which is likely to be repeated when he gets his first cap.

“She’s my number one fan so you can imagine what it would be like,” Clyne said, smiling.

The right-back admits he was disappointed that opportunity did not arrive last month, when former Southampton team-mate Calum Chambers instead got the nod, but is confident he will shine when the time arrives.

Hodgson certainly seems impressed, overlooking vastly-experienced Glen Johnson in favour of the uncapped defender.

“The manager obviously thinks highly of me and I’m being credited for my performances from Southampton,” he said. “If you play well, you get called up.

“I’m not that surprised I’ve kept Glen Johnson out of the squad. I feel like I’m playing really well, and if I get a chance to play I’ll try and prove it.”

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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