Jack Butland has revealed he was gutted to hear his hero Joe Hart had been omitted from England's World Cup squad.
Hart had previously been a mainstay of the England team, having earned 75 caps, but a poor season on loan at West Ham, where he was in and out of the side, left his position untenable.
Butland will now be competing with Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope to be England's number one in Russia and he revealed he texted Hart as soon as the news broke.
"I think we all thought, 'wow'. It was a gutsy decision from the manager. I've spoken to Joe and I know he's devastated to miss out," he said.
"I've known Joe for a very long time. He's been my hero since I was 14 years old and I still look up to him now.
"It was important for me to tell him that because you don't get opportunities to tell people what you really think of them."
Back at it. May 23, 2018
Hart drew attention in 2009-10 with an impressive loan spell at Birmingham City, a club where Butland learnt his trade after coming through the youth academy, and the current Stoke City goalkeeper praised the 31-year-old for being so influential in his development.
"When I was coming through at Birmingham, I wanted to be where he was," Butland said.
"I wanted to be the goalkeeper for Birmingham and England – he was both of those things.
"Over the last couple of years I've learned more from Joe than I ever could have expected. He has always been the first one to congratulate whoever has played, be it me, Jordan or Tom Heaton.
"That shows more about Joe as a person and character than any of the saves or great performances and I owe him a lot."
Butland also has a strong friendship with another former Stoke goalkeeper in 1966 World Cup winner Gordon Banks, who continues to inspire the next generation of England shot-stoppers.
"Gordon came to the training group and brought along his World Cup medal and it was a lot smaller than I thought," he said.
"He also brought a signed photo of him and Pele – of that famous save – and gave that to me.
"I've got a lot of connection from Gordon. He has done it and I know he would love me to do it as well."
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