As football seasons go, the 2017/18 campaign was a difficult one for Nathaniel Clyne.
Sidelined with a back injury picked up last July, the Liverpool star and England international had to watch on while club and country went from strength to strength.
But the Reds’ run to the Champions League final and Gareth Southgate’s steady progress with the Three Lions did not get him down. “Watching how well Liverpool and England have been doing has just made me hungrier to get back out there. It encourages me. That’s how I get motivated: by watching others,” he tells loaded.
“It’s been a frustrating period for me, being out injured for so long, and to see everyone going out to training while I’m stuck in the gym. But I’ve worked very hard to get back to fitness and I’m looking forward to pre-season now.”
Capped 14 times by England, Clyne knows, first-hand, the pressure of playing for the national side but is confident Southgate’s squad can handle it. “It’s good pressure,” Clyne, speaking at the launch of the #FarahXI campaign, said. “It makes you play better and focus more. Because you are fighting for your position. It encourages you to do well.”
Growing up, Clyne’s heroes were the likes of Michael Owen, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole. “They were the legends I watched growing up as an England fan.” And for all talk of that golden generation, Clyne thinks the current England side could surprise in Russia.
“I’m very confident in England’s chances. I think they will do really well. They have got a very solid team. It’s young and exciting and very solid at the back. They’ve also got some great attacking players.”
That’s not to say the full-back thinks the Three Lions are nailed on to win the World Cup, of course. “It will be a difficult tournament. There are a lot of teams that could do well: Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, Portugal,” he said. “There are world-class players in all those teams, so it will be tricky, but England have world class players too.”
Could England have been even better though if, for example, they had been able to call on Clyne’s former Crystal Palace teammate Wilfried Zaha? The tricky attacker was capped once by Roy Hodgson, playing in a friendly for the Three Lions, before switching to the country of his birth, Ivory Coast. Clyne
“Of course, Wilfried Zaha is a quality player. I came up through the ranks with him at Crystal Palace and trained with him a lot. He’s very talented on the ball and you can see that this season. He’s been Crystal Palace’s player of the season this year,” he said.
“However, it’s nothing to do with me with regards to his decision to which international team he chose and so it’s hard for me to comment.”
Nathaniel Clyne shares his England #FarahXI and three lions memories on the Farah menswear blog. Shop Nathaniel’s look including the classic Brewer shirt here.
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.