Conor Coady was hailed for his behind-the-scenes role in England’s run to the Euro 2020 final but now the Wolves defender is ready to make a statement on the pitch.
The 28-year-old has five England caps but did not play a minute of football as the Three Lions went all the way to the final of the European Championship before losing on penalties to Italy.
Coady was widely praised by the staff and his team-mates for being a positive influence despite not managing to make it onto the pitch.
England boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed Coady will start Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra at Wembley on what will be his first cap in front of fans.
“Incredible, incredible honestly,” he replied when asked how proud he would be stepping onto the pitch.
“Anytime you play at Wembley it is a special feeling and a special moment and I think, even last season when I managed to play in those games, even the feeling of just being there and playing for your country was incredible.
“But now that my family has a chance to obviously come and watch the game and my wife can come, my mum and dad can come, I think it’s a special feeling and a proud moment for everybody in my family.
“I think it’s something where we’re ready for the game.
“The boys were fantastic the other night. We’re ready for the game and it’s something we want to go out there now and we can’t wait for.”
While he was lauded for the part he played during Euro 2020, Coady is also a competitor and is still keen to win as many England caps as possible.
“In the summer, I’ve mentioned it plenty of times before, it was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said.
“(It was) the best five weeks my life, honestly it was incredible, but we all want to play. We all want to be playing football and that’s no different for me as well.
“So to get the opportunity at any moment, to represent the country, to play for England to put on an England shirt is a special moment for myself and I’ll always – every single day – try to give the best of myself to the country whenever I’m playing or whenever I’m training, that’s no different come tomorrow.
“Like I said, whenever I put the shirt on it is a proud moment and it’s something I can’t wait for – especially to be at Wembley in front of 60-70,000 England supporters is a special feeling as I mentioned before, so it’s something I can’t wait for.”
A fine example of the high regard in which Coady’s impact was held during the summer came when assistant manager Steve Holland named the centre-back as England’s player of the tournament.
“I’ll be honest with you when I heard that, I couldn’t believe that,” he said.
“I was shocked by it, what the staff have done for me since I’ve been coming away with England being on international breaks since the debut last year has been incredible.
“So to hear someone like Steve say something like that and honestly it was brilliant to hear but I didn’t expect it.
“If I’m being honest with you, it’s just how I wanted to go about my business in the summer which was to try and help this team as much as possible, whether that be playing, or OK if it’s not playing then it’s obviously on the training pitch trying to give the best of yourself every single day.
“I think that’s just me as a person but to hear Steve obviously say something like that was absolutely incredible and something I really didn’t expect.”
A qualifier against Andorra might not be as glamourous to some as playing in a major final but Sunday’s fixture has plenty riding on it for Coady.
“It’s not ‘only Andorra’ to me,” he added.
“It’s a big game. Whenever you get the chance to represent your country, to play for England, it’s a huge moment and that’s exactly what it is for me.
“The summer was a massive point for me to get picked for my country and to go to a major tournament was huge.”