Are you ready for the noise that is going to be created by the vuvuzelas?
Well, it helps build the atmosphere. But I’m sure there’ll be loads of England fans and they’ll make their own noise.
Indeed, England are expected to take 60,000 fans, more than any country except the hosts. How much of a help could this be?
The support we’ve had from the England fans in tournaments has always been brilliant, and we would expect nothing different this time around. There’s a lot of expectation on us and there will be times when we’ll need the fans to get us through games, and I’m sure that’ll happen.
Could playing in South Africa’s winter help?
I think so, yeah. I played there a couple of years ago in the summer [in the Vodacom Tournament with Manchester United] and it was fine. When the games are played in the heat, like the last couple of tournaments have been, and you’re not used to it, you have to adapt. You lose so much fluid and somehow you’ve got to get that back into you – that can be quite hard. I’m sure if the weather’s more suited to English football it’ll be an advantage for us.
Have you ever played at altitude before?
We played one game in Johannesburg in that tournament. There wasn’t any shortness of breath – it’s not a big factor. Besides, everyone has to cope with it, not just us, so it’s not a problem.
You were injured at Euro 2004, went into the 2006 World Cup having just returned from an injury and missed out in 2008. How much of a motivating factor will this be in the summer?
Obviously I hope I can show the world me at my best.
What have you learnt from your previous outings at tournaments?
You gain that experience of tournament football through playing in them, though you get that in the Champions League too, especially in the latter stages. It’s that experience that we might need if we get to the last four or the last eight of the competition. We have a lot of players who have been to the latter stages of the Champions League with their clubs and that should help us. I just hope this has a happier ending.
How different do things feel in this England squad compared to previous ones you’ve been involved with?
I think they do feel different. Since I’ve been in the squad, the players have always got on with each other but since the manager came in he’s made team spirit one of the most important things. The attitude is 100 per cent for games and for training – that should stand us in good stead.
You’re regarded as England’s most important player, even though you’re only 24. How does that sit with you?
I don’t think about it, to be honest. One player doesn’t make a team, and we have got a lot of players who can win you a match out of nothing, not just me, and we’ll need to do that to make sure we do well. The only way you can perform at your best is if you have the service and support of your team-mates.
Fabio Capello told FFT that he’d told you to “stay in front of the goal”. How important has he be