Before Euro 2012 kicked off MOTD magazine Features Editor Ed Bearryman went to the England hotel for a special training session with Ashley Young, then sat down for a chat about his role in the team, the mood in the camp and England’s chances of glory.
Ashley, this is your first tournament with England, do you feel you belong on this stage?
“Yes. I’ve got confidence in my ability. I think I’ve shown I can play at this level. I’ve always said I want to test myself at the highest level and playing at a major tournament is one of those occasions. As a kid that’s what I wanted to do and I’ve got that opportunity now – fingers crossed, the tournament will go well.”
In the past England players have found it intimidating to perform at major tournaments – has your confidence helped to inspire the rest of the squad?
“Yes I think so. We’ve seen a few fresh young faces come into the squad, and even the team, and it has helped freshen things up. They way we qualified, with those new faces in the team, shows that it’s paid off.”
The manager has said he wants to be able to depend on you for goals – do you feel like you can deliver?
“Hopefully! It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet and recently I’ve been able to do that. It’s a bonus to score or assist and I don’t mind the manager turning round and saying thinks like that – I like playing with pressure!”
We hear you’re one of the louder voices in the camp – is it your job to keep spirits high?
“I don’t think it’s a job as such, it’s more just having banter. I prefer to say I’m not that loud but all the lads say I am! We’ve got a team bond here and everyone gets on with everyone. We’re going to be away for a few weeks so we need to get on. It’s all about keeping our spirits high and that’s what I’m there to do!”
The players have played a lot of table tennis, darts and FIFA 12 in previous camps – who’s coming out on top at the moment?
“I think there will be a big debate on that. There will be a few players throwing their names into the hat (when it comes to FIFA 12) and I’d say I will be as well. When you’re playing games like that it always helps to build team spirit – that’s important.”
We hear Wayne Rooney is the joker in the pack in the England dressing room – is that true?
“Yes, but you’ll have to come into the dressing room to find out what he does – I’m not dishing the dirt. He does a few pranks but he’s a great person off the pitch.”
How would you describe the reign of Roy Hodgson so far?
“It’s only just the beginning but he’s a manager who’s a winner. He wants to win. I’ve joined a club (Man. United) with a manager (Alex Ferguson) who’s a massive winner and he instilled that in me straight away. Coming here, I go into the tournament wanting to win and that’s exactly what the manager has said.”
So is that a realistic ambition – to win the tournament?
“With the players we’ve got in the squad, we can win the tournament. But we can’t get ahead ourselves – we’ve got to win and qualify out of the group. The players have their feet firmly on the ground and know what we’ve got to do first: perform well and qualify out of the group.”
Ashley put Ed through his paces in a special sweat test for Lucozade Sport, which helps to replace fluids after training. Go to www.lucozade.com for more details.
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