Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill has revealed that he is “desperate to make the nation proud” as England prepare to travel to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Although Harry Kane will serve as captain of the nation at the tournament, Cahill’s experience will be vital and he will also be a leader within the team as the most experienced player named in Gareth Southgate’s squad; his 40 caps surpass the average held by those in the 23-man team, which stands at 19.5.
While they have been underachievers in major international tournaments, the English will be favoured to at least progress beyond the group stages in Russia. They play fixtures against Tunisia on June 18, Panama on June 24 and Belgium on June 28.
The only real challenge of the group on paper is their match against the Red Devils. The Belgians are one of the world’s best teams, with the likes of Vincent Kompany, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard all within their ranks.
While the English should be able to defeat Tunisia and Panama, these are games which they cannot afford to take for granted. Cahill will be well aware of that as he was part of the England squad that was eliminated during the group stage of the 2014 World Cup and the last-16 stage of the Euro 2016 tournament at the hands of Iceland.
Cahill said: “There’s more experience in bigger games. All of this adds being to handle the pressures there will be in the World Cup. It feels as if there is more experience, even though it’s a young group.
“In the time I have been with England, in the qualification and the friendlies, we have been fine, and then the tournament comes, which has proved to be difficult for whatever reason.
“I’m just going there personally in such a positive frame of mind and no nerves, just excitement to go over there.
“I’m desperate for it to be a success and to try to make the nation proud – and to come back having had a good experience in a tournament, which is something I’ve missed in my career.”