I got on with Steve McClaren at Boro, and I was confident I’d get the nod once he got the England job. It was known Steve wanted to move on from your Beckhams and your Big Sols, and when I made the squad for an important 2007 clash I was over the moon. Even the sneering in the press – Sad Steve’s wRONg Turning, Ronnie Matt-WHOs?, Sir Bobby: Matthews Selection Devalues International Football etc – couldn’t dampen my spirits. The potential Faroe Islands banana skin certainly wasn’t a meaningless friendly to THIS Three Lion.
As it turned out, I unfortunately became the first England player to be sent off on debut for propositioning a female linesperson, but I told myself: they can’t take that cap away from me. And until an unprecedented decision by Sepp and his FIFA Europrats to retrospectively strip the match of its full international status on account of my so-called ‘disgraceful actions’, that was true.
Happy memories of booing the Faroe Islands national anthem aside, I’ve been in no doubt as to where I stand on the old club v country debate ever since.