Olympics Table Tennis

Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert on life playing for England: 'we had a few drinks and jumped in a river' - exclusive interview
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert on life playing for England: 'we had a few drinks and jumped in a river' - exclusive interview
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert on life playing for England: 'we had a few drinks and jumped in a river' - exclusive interview
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert on life playing for England: 'we had a few drinks and jumped in a river' - exclusive interview
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Rickie Lambert on life playing for England: 'we had a few drinks and jumped in a river' - exclusive interview
Rickie Lambert still breaks out into a wide-eyed grin at one particular memory from his brief, fairy-tale stint as an England footballer. “I think it was Switzerland,” he says, recalling what was a pressurised 2-0 Euro 2016 qualifying win in Basel shortly after the 2014 World Cup. “We were in a hotel, had a few drinks. We’d gone out. There was a river – I couldn’t believe how high the bridge was. We jumped off, one after the other. It was brilliant. Everyone was laughing their heads off. It was a really good bunch of lads.” Lambert’s anecdote serves as proof of two things. How not everything that happens behind closed doors with England immediately gets out. And that team spirit can be forged in many different ways. Rockery Rickie: Lambert poses for the photographers at Vale Do Lobo in 2014 Credit: PA It is why Lambert is convinced that England manager Gareth Southgate must pay no regard over the next six weeks to what outsiders might think and ensure a healthy balance is struck between work, rest and, yes, a little play. Lambert experienced the intensity of the England bubble at the 2014 World Cup and pinpoints boredom as a major challenge. “I absolutely loved it – the training, the whole build-up was excellent – and to be around the squad was amazing,” he says. “But it was a bit hard because quite a lot you were bored. You were stuck in the hotel and literally couldn’t go anywhere.” So, how did players fill what were long hours at their Rio de Janeiro base outside of the formal schedule? “Some might stay with the physios and masseurs to chat, others would be playing pool, table tennis or computer games. I thought I was decent at table tennis, but when I saw Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, I thought, ‘maybe not’. You had different groups if you were bored or, if you wanted time alone, you could go to your bedroom. The boys in Rio: Rickie Lambert, Leighton Baines and Adam Lallana get some R and R. Credit: Splash News “It was a bit of a thing that you couldn’t go out. I was a bit gutted that I couldn’t see the lovely city. We went to America and Portugal before. That was brilliant. The attention wasn’t as fierce. We went to the beaches. We had our own days as well to do what we wanted. Those days really make the squad a lot closer and the more Gareth Southgate can do that the better. It is just going for a meal, maybe have a couple of drinks. Obviously, they can’t get p----- … but a couple of drinks. Just let your hair down now and again.” Lambert attributes his own rise to a transformation in off-field discipline and so would never advocate anything seriously detrimental to physical performance, but simply stresses that the World Cup environment is unique. “The amount of pressure the guys are under from the English media is fierce,” he says. “It’s nothing I had ever seen before so, to have your own time to relax, is definitely something the squad miss. It was very apparent from early on. It was unbelievable, incredible. I could see what it was doing to Roy [Hodgson]. It does seep through. England Formation Builder “The FA was very aware of what the papers were saying. I just thought, ‘Let it go, it doesn’t matter’. You just focus on the pitch. Eventually, a manager is going to have to say, ‘We are going to do what we want. I am going to get judged on what I do in the World Cup anyway. If a story gets out, it doesn’t matter’. If they do well in the World Cup, everyone will forget about it.” Lambert, though, still does not think the scrutiny impacted on performances and was not, ultimately, a reason for exiting the tournament after 2-1 defeats against Italy and Uruguay. “I thought we were going to do well; get past the group stages. I thought I could have been used more earlier. It was so disappointing the way it ended but, to play for England in the World Cup, was still the highlight of my career.” It was also the culmination of a truly inspirational story. From being released by Liverpool and Blackpool as a teenager to spending his summer working in a beetroot factory and playing at Macclesfield Town for only £50-a-week in travel expenses, Lambert found lift-off after joining Southampton in League One. He was 27 and had spent the previous seven seasons at Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers. World Cup predictor “The old Rickie finished when Alan Pardew took hold of me,” he says. “It was about a month into the season. I was the leading goalscorer, but Pardew called me in.” Frank words were exchanged and, to the credit of both men, the impact was life-changing. “I was literally in the gym the next morning,” says Lambert. “Within two weeks, I could feel the difference. It became like a drug. I couldn’t get enough of the work. I started eating right, stopped the drinking and the fat just fell off. Before, after 70 minutes, I would start blowing. I would struggle to get to a ball in the channels and rarely make runs behind. I became more of an all-round player and could match people for fitness. I found my game so so easy after that.” Full and frank exchange of views: Alan Pardew in his Southampton role Credit: Getty Lambert believes that his background still worked to his advantage and, while stressing that the very elite would not benefit from grafting their way through the divisions, thinks that academy football can also stifle development. “I see kids in the Premier League [academies] playing the most fake football I have ever seen,” he says. “They are at that stage for two to three years. Their decline must be unbelievable. “I was under pressure to get three points from day one. I was in scary relegation fights, knowing if we got relegated from the Football League that half the club’s staff are sacked. Those moments helped. If I’d got to the top too early, I would not have been a success. I was physically and mentally ready.” Especially impressive was how Lambert’s development continued well into his 30s. Nigel Adkins and then Mauricio Pochettino built on Pardew’s work to oversee a progression that was sufficient for fans to recently vote him into the club’s all-time greatest team. Inspiration: then-Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino Credit: AP Pochettino’s public certainty through 2013 that Lambert could play for England was crucial both in boosting his confidence and also lending wider credibility to the idea. “Poch is the best manager I have come across,” says Lambert. “He pushed me to the limit and made me understand the game more. To see what he has done for Harry Kane does not surprise me. He’s got Kane at the right age. He would analyse everyone, pull you to one side, work on your weaknesses, teach you how to move differently. “The hardest shot in my eyes was the ball coming across onto my left foot. I used to open up and hit it with my right. He said, ‘Why don’t you hit it with your left?’ I replied, ‘I find it hard’. He then literally took me out and rolled the ball across. Shot after shot after shot. “When he first said that I could play for England, I was shocked but, as the goals kept going in, Poch kept talking and it got louder and louder. It is thanks to him that I got there.” Here's Rickie Lambert making it a dream debut! #engsco#Wembleypic.twitter.com/cSnUpBzXBe— Wembley Stadium (@wembleystadium) August 14, 2013 The call-up came on the day Lambert’s wife gave birth to their third child and, in keeping with this Roy of the Rovers rise, he then scored a Wembley winner with his first touch in international football. The World Cup and a return to boyhood club Liverpool followed with a year. “It was surreal,” he says. “I didn’t get much recognition and then, suddenly, everything clicked. It was like trying to ride the crest of a wave. #EFLAwards: Rickie Lambert to be honoured with the prestigious Sir Tom Finney Award this Sunday >> https://t.co/HBbnxIgqlppic.twitter.com/AwTV1nT2Qf— EFL (@EFL) April 14, 2018 “I only knew I was going to the World Cup an hour before it went public. I got a text with the travel arrangements. I replied saying, ‘Am I in the squad then?’ I knew Roy liked me but, for me, it was 50-50.” Lambert had gone from watching the 2010 World Cup in a New Forest beer garden to appearing himself on football’s greatest stage. Having retired last year and been presented in April with the Football League’s most prestigious individual honour – the Sir Tom Finney Lifetime Award – the circle will again turn this month. “I can’t wait,” says Lambert. “I’m a proud England fan and desperate to see them do well. I’ll be in a pub somewhere watching the games.” WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
The joint South Korea and North Korea table tennis team pose with a flag of the Korea peninsula at the world championships (AFP Photo/Jonas EKSTROMER)
The joint South Korea and North Korea table tennis team pose with a flag of the Korea peninsula at the world championships
The joint South Korea and North Korea table tennis team pose with a flag of the Korea peninsula at the world championships (AFP Photo/Jonas EKSTROMER)
The combined Korea table tennis team applaud during the Women's semifinal match between Korea and Japan at the World Team Table Tennis Championship, in Halmstad, Sweden, Friday, May 4, 2018. North and South Korea have combined their women's teams at the table tennis world championships. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)
Combined Korean team takes bronze at table tennis worlds
The combined Korea table tennis team applaud during the Women's semifinal match between Korea and Japan at the World Team Table Tennis Championship, in Halmstad, Sweden, Friday, May 4, 2018. North and South Korea have combined their women's teams at the table tennis world championships. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency via AP)
The joint Korea table tennis team during the women's semifinal Korea-Japan at the world team table tennis chamipionships in Halmstad, Sweden Friday May 4, 2018. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
Combined Korean team takes bronze at table tennis worlds
The joint Korea table tennis team during the women's semifinal Korea-Japan at the world team table tennis chamipionships in Halmstad, Sweden Friday May 4, 2018. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
Korea's Kim Song during the women's semifinal Korea-Japan at the world team table tennis chamipionships in Halmstad, Sweden Friday May 4, 2018. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
Combined Korean team takes bronze at table tennis worlds
Korea's Kim Song during the women's semifinal Korea-Japan at the world team table tennis chamipionships in Halmstad, Sweden Friday May 4, 2018. (Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
North and South Korea lay down table tennis bats to unite in World Team Championships quarter-final
North and South Korea lay down table tennis bats to unite in World Team Championships quarter-final
North and South Korea lay down table tennis bats to unite in World Team Championships quarter-final
North and South Korea lay down table tennis bats to unite in World Team Championships quarter-final
North and South Korea lay down table tennis bats to unite in World Team Championships quarter-final
North and South Korea lay down table tennis bats to unite in World Team Championships quarter-final
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
Korean teams unite half way through table tennis world championships
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
Korean teams unite half way through table tennis world championships
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
Korean teams unite half way through table tennis world championships
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
Korean teams unite half way through table tennis world championships
The two Koreas will field a combined team in the table tennis world championships semi finals after the nations decided not to compete against each other in the quarter-finals.
Members of North Korea and South Korea table tennis teams pose together for a group photo after deciding to combine their teams to avoid playing against each other in the Quarter Finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden, Thursday May 2, 2018. Their quarter final match was canceled after North and South Korea decided to play together in the semi finals, rather than eliminate one of their teams in the quarter final. ( Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
Pingpong diplomacy: Koreas join teams at table tennis worlds
Members of North Korea and South Korea table tennis teams pose together for a group photo after deciding to combine their teams to avoid playing against each other in the Quarter Finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden, Thursday May 2, 2018. Their quarter final match was canceled after North and South Korea decided to play together in the semi finals, rather than eliminate one of their teams in the quarter final. ( Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
Members of North Korea and South Korea table tennis teams pose together for a group photo after deciding to combine their teams to avoid playing against each other in the Quarter Finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden, Thursday May 2, 2018. Their quarter final match was canceled after North and South Korea decided to play together in the semi finals, rather than eliminate one of their teams in the quarter final. ( Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
Pingpong diplomacy: Koreas join teams at table tennis worlds
Members of North Korea and South Korea table tennis teams pose together for a group photo after deciding to combine their teams to avoid playing against each other in the Quarter Finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden, Thursday May 2, 2018. Their quarter final match was canceled after North and South Korea decided to play together in the semi finals, rather than eliminate one of their teams in the quarter final. ( Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)
South Korean and North Korean teams receive standing ovations after deciding to form a unified Korean team for the upcoming semi-finals at the World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
World Team Table Tennis Championships
South Korean and North Korean teams receive standing ovations after deciding to form a unified Korean team for the upcoming semi-finals at the World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
Suh Hyo-Won of South Korea and Kim Song I of North Korea react after a news conference, in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
World Team Table Tennis Championships
Suh Hyo-Won of South Korea and Kim Song I of North Korea react after a news conference, in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
South Korean and North Korean teams receive standing ovations after deciding to form a unified Korean team for the upcoming semi-finals at the World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
World Team Table Tennis Championships
South Korean and North Korean teams receive standing ovations after deciding to form a unified Korean team for the upcoming semi-finals at the World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
Suh Hyo-Won of South Korea and Kim Song I of North Korea react after a news conference, in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
World Team Table Tennis Championships
Suh Hyo-Won of South Korea and Kim Song I of North Korea react after a news conference, in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
Suh Hyo-Won of South Korea and Kim Song I of North Korea react after a news conference, in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
World Team Table Tennis Championships
Suh Hyo-Won of South Korea and Kim Song I of North Korea react after a news conference, in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
South Korean and North Korean teams pose after deciding to form a unified Korean team for the upcoming semi-finals at the World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
World Team Table Tennis Championships
South Korean and North Korean teams pose after deciding to form a unified Korean team for the upcoming semi-finals at the World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden May 3, 2018. TT News Agency/Jonas Ekstromer/via REUTERS
Table Tennis - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's Singles - Gold Medal Match - Nigeria v Singapore - Oxenford Studios - Gold Coast, Australia - April 15, 2018. Gao Ning of Singapore in action. REUTERS/Jeremy Lee
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games
Table Tennis - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Men's Singles - Gold Medal Match - Nigeria v Singapore - Oxenford Studios - Gold Coast, Australia - April 15, 2018. Gao Ning of Singapore in action. REUTERS/Jeremy Lee
Frazer Clarke has spent more than 50 rounds in the ring with Anthony Joshua and had the privileged position of watching the world heavyweight champion’s title fights up close thanks to his work as a ringside security guard. At times he thought his time would never come, but on Saturday Clarke took the first step in emulating his great friend by claiming gold in the Gold Coast to round off England boxing's greatest ever day at the Commonwealth Games. A hulking brute of a man, Clarke first boxed internationally as a 16-year-old and had designs on competing as a super-heavyweight at the London 2012 Olympics. That slot instead went to Joshua, who won gold, and the same fate befell Clarke four years later when Joe Joyce was selected ahead of him. Two years on from that snub, Clarke, 26, emerged from a tough encounter with India’s Satish Kumar to claim Commonwealth gold by unanimous points decision, before insisting that he will emulate Joshua by winning gold Olympic at Tokyo 2020. Satish Kumar (L) was Clarke's (R) opponent in the final Credit: Getty Images “There were times when I thought maybe this is not for me,” he said. “I had the injuries, knock backs and I’ve been pipped to the Olympics twice. “Both times when I sit back and think about it I wasn’t ready. Could I have won gold in London? No. Could I have won gold in Rio? Maybe. I had a better chance than in London. “But the right two lads got picked for the job and served our country very well. My time will be in Tokyo. I believe everybody’s got an allotted time frame, I just took a bit longer.” Since first sparring with Joshua in 2009 – when he recalls laying eyes on a man who “looked like he’d been chiselled out of stone” – Clarke says he has used his friend’s success as a model to replicate, watching every detail from how much water he drinks to the way he stretches. The pair shared a ring together the day before Clarke flew out to Australia, but the new Commonwealth champion’s bravado meant he was eager not to be reduced to a description of someone else’s human punch bag. “I do spar with Joshua but I’m no-one’s sparring partner and I never have been,” he said. “We work with each other and help each other. It does help me out, but I help him out. “Ask the man himself, he don’t get any better sparring than me. He can ship them in from all over the world but nobody serves him better than I do. “I hope people know me now and recognise me. I’m Frazer Clarke, Big Fraze from a little town Burton-on-Trent. “If you don’t know me now then get to know me because you’re going to be seeing a lot more of me over the next few years.” Benefitting from the multi-million investment in Britain’s amateur boxing set-up in Sheffield, Team England came to the Gold Coast with high hopes and secured nine medals from their 12 fighters on Saturday. Clarke was one of six England gold medallists as Lisa Whiteside, Sandy Ryan, Galal Yafai, Peter McGrail and Pat McCormack helped beat the country’s previous Commonwealth Games record of five. Lisa Whiteside added to England's medal haul Credit: AP Having watched from the sidelines as her former team-mate and double Olympic champion Nicola Adams swept all before her, Whiteside finally took advantage of her time to shine to win flyweight gold. With Adams now operating in the professional ranks, Whiteside seized her chance with victory over Northern Ireland’s Carly McNaul. “I’ve always been so close to standing on the top of that podium,” said Whiteside, 32. “I’ve had to bide my time, I’ve had to take knocks, I’ve had to be sat in the shadows. But now it’s about me, Lisa Whiteside, and I’m number one at the Commonwealth Games.” Away from the boxing ring there was double success for England’s sprint relay runners with both men and women’s 4x100m relay teams beating Jamaica to gold. Victory was some redemption for Zharnel Hughes, who thought he had won 200m gold earlier in the week only to be disqualified after the race. “It’s been a long week, but I’m still a gold medallist,” he said, after triumphing alongside Reuben Arthur, Richard Kilty and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey. “I’ve put the 200m behind me. It’s in the past. This shows I am a world-class athlete.” England's (L-R) Lorraine Ugen, Bianca Williams, Dina Asher-Smith and Asha Philip celebrate winning gold in the Women's 4x100m Credit: PA Their female counterparts ran the fastest time in English history, despite regular runners Asha Philip, Dina Asher-Smith and Bianca Williams being joined by long jumper Lorraine Ugen, who was parachuted in at short notice. Ugen finished fourth in the long jump on Thursday and only trained with the squad for 10 minutes on Saturday morning, but ran the anchor leg in a national record 42.26 seconds. There were further gold medals for England’s David Luckman in the shooting Queen’s prize individual and men’s table tennis doubles pair Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall. Meanwhile, England’s men and women rugby sevens teams are both guaranteed the chance of fighting for a medal on Sunday after advancing safely to semi-finals against New Zealand.
Boxer Frazer Clarke wins Commonwealth Gold and targets Tokyo 2020 after sparring with Anthony Joshua
Frazer Clarke has spent more than 50 rounds in the ring with Anthony Joshua and had the privileged position of watching the world heavyweight champion’s title fights up close thanks to his work as a ringside security guard. At times he thought his time would never come, but on Saturday Clarke took the first step in emulating his great friend by claiming gold in the Gold Coast to round off England boxing's greatest ever day at the Commonwealth Games. A hulking brute of a man, Clarke first boxed internationally as a 16-year-old and had designs on competing as a super-heavyweight at the London 2012 Olympics. That slot instead went to Joshua, who won gold, and the same fate befell Clarke four years later when Joe Joyce was selected ahead of him. Two years on from that snub, Clarke, 26, emerged from a tough encounter with India’s Satish Kumar to claim Commonwealth gold by unanimous points decision, before insisting that he will emulate Joshua by winning gold Olympic at Tokyo 2020. Satish Kumar (L) was Clarke's (R) opponent in the final Credit: Getty Images “There were times when I thought maybe this is not for me,” he said. “I had the injuries, knock backs and I’ve been pipped to the Olympics twice. “Both times when I sit back and think about it I wasn’t ready. Could I have won gold in London? No. Could I have won gold in Rio? Maybe. I had a better chance than in London. “But the right two lads got picked for the job and served our country very well. My time will be in Tokyo. I believe everybody’s got an allotted time frame, I just took a bit longer.” Since first sparring with Joshua in 2009 – when he recalls laying eyes on a man who “looked like he’d been chiselled out of stone” – Clarke says he has used his friend’s success as a model to replicate, watching every detail from how much water he drinks to the way he stretches. The pair shared a ring together the day before Clarke flew out to Australia, but the new Commonwealth champion’s bravado meant he was eager not to be reduced to a description of someone else’s human punch bag. “I do spar with Joshua but I’m no-one’s sparring partner and I never have been,” he said. “We work with each other and help each other. It does help me out, but I help him out. “Ask the man himself, he don’t get any better sparring than me. He can ship them in from all over the world but nobody serves him better than I do. “I hope people know me now and recognise me. I’m Frazer Clarke, Big Fraze from a little town Burton-on-Trent. “If you don’t know me now then get to know me because you’re going to be seeing a lot more of me over the next few years.” Benefitting from the multi-million investment in Britain’s amateur boxing set-up in Sheffield, Team England came to the Gold Coast with high hopes and secured nine medals from their 12 fighters on Saturday. Clarke was one of six England gold medallists as Lisa Whiteside, Sandy Ryan, Galal Yafai, Peter McGrail and Pat McCormack helped beat the country’s previous Commonwealth Games record of five. Lisa Whiteside added to England's medal haul Credit: AP Having watched from the sidelines as her former team-mate and double Olympic champion Nicola Adams swept all before her, Whiteside finally took advantage of her time to shine to win flyweight gold. With Adams now operating in the professional ranks, Whiteside seized her chance with victory over Northern Ireland’s Carly McNaul. “I’ve always been so close to standing on the top of that podium,” said Whiteside, 32. “I’ve had to bide my time, I’ve had to take knocks, I’ve had to be sat in the shadows. But now it’s about me, Lisa Whiteside, and I’m number one at the Commonwealth Games.” Away from the boxing ring there was double success for England’s sprint relay runners with both men and women’s 4x100m relay teams beating Jamaica to gold. Victory was some redemption for Zharnel Hughes, who thought he had won 200m gold earlier in the week only to be disqualified after the race. “It’s been a long week, but I’m still a gold medallist,” he said, after triumphing alongside Reuben Arthur, Richard Kilty and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey. “I’ve put the 200m behind me. It’s in the past. This shows I am a world-class athlete.” England's (L-R) Lorraine Ugen, Bianca Williams, Dina Asher-Smith and Asha Philip celebrate winning gold in the Women's 4x100m Credit: PA Their female counterparts ran the fastest time in English history, despite regular runners Asha Philip, Dina Asher-Smith and Bianca Williams being joined by long jumper Lorraine Ugen, who was parachuted in at short notice. Ugen finished fourth in the long jump on Thursday and only trained with the squad for 10 minutes on Saturday morning, but ran the anchor leg in a national record 42.26 seconds. There were further gold medals for England’s David Luckman in the shooting Queen’s prize individual and men’s table tennis doubles pair Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall. Meanwhile, England’s men and women rugby sevens teams are both guaranteed the chance of fighting for a medal on Sunday after advancing safely to semi-finals against New Zealand.

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