Frankie Fielding reveals pain over loss of dad who missed his rise to fame

Stuart Pearce's Under-21 keeper faces a big test today but he has a special reason to do his family name proud

It is a proud day for a footballer when either of his parents is present for the first time to watch him play league football, and Frankie Fielding was particularly excited when his father decided to fly home from his job in Malaysia to watch him turn out on loan for Wycombe Wanderers. But 57-year-old Frank Snr, who his son says had moved to Kuala Lumpur to work for a textile company "to put food on the table for us" never made the trip.

"We couldn't get hold of him all day," Fielding recalled yesterday. "I was living in a flat in Wycombe and then my cousin's boyfriend drove over from Maidenhead and told me my dad had died [from a heart attack]. I went straight home after that. The thing that pees me off is that he never saw me in a first-team game."

Fielding's father remains an inspiration to him, commemorated in a tattoo on his arm, and there have been more than 100 appearances since that day in goal for club and country, albeit not for the team he really wanted to represent: his beloved home-town club, Blackburn Rovers.

Shunted out on loan eight times after joining their academy, he accepted at the end of this past season that he would have to move on, and was delighted to sign for Derby County, where he had proved both popular and talented in two of those loan periods. The Derby manager Nigel Clough had received an excellent character reference from his former Nottingham Forest team-mate Stuart Pearce, who has now installed Fielding as his first-choice goalkeeper in the England Under-21 team competing here at the European Championship. The selection has been justified by his outstanding form, exemplified by two identical saves in the top corner of the goal during the last two matches, a friendly against Norway and then the 1-1 draw with Spain on Sunday.

"What they do at international level sometimes helps their club careers and I think it's done that with Frankie," Pearce said yesterday. That included promotion to the senior squad on one occasion in the past season, and with so much uncertainty surrounding the various deputies to Joe Hart, opportunity may knock again. The down-to-earth Fielding will not be fazed if it does, having enjoyed his introduction to the stars in the senior England camp: "The likes of Wayne Rooney came over and said 'Hello, I'm Wayne'. I said 'I know who you are, pal!'."

With Fielding behind a settled back four, Pearce has no worries about his defence ahead of this evening's game against Ukraine, who began with a 2-1 defeat by the fancied Czech Republic in which they lost their influential captain and midfielder Taras Stepanenko for the rest of the tournament.

The England manager yesterday admitted to "one or two positions I need to sleep on" – notably in midfield, where the captain Michael Mancienne's place must be at risk after a poor display against Spain. Jack Rodwell and Fabrice Muamba, both of whom were in the team that lost the final to Germany two years ago, will hope to return alongside Jordan Henderson in a tighter trio, perhaps to the exclusion of the disappointing Tom Cleverley. "Making sure the last person who was captain will be in the team is absolutely no consideration to me whatsoever," Pearce said.

Victory in Herning would put England in an excellent position to qualify, whereas a draw or defeat would risk an early return home – something welcomed no doubt by various club managers, but not of benefit to the youngsters' long-term development.

England (probable, 4-3-3) Fielding (Derby); Walker (Tottenham), Jones (Blackburn), Smalling (Manchester United), Bertrand (Chelsea); Henderson (Liverpool), Muamba (Bolton), Rodwell (Everton); Sturridge (Chelsea), Welbeck (Manchester United), Rose (Tottenham).

Ukraine (probable, 4-2-3-1) Kanibolotskiy; Butko, Rakitskiy, Kryvtsov, Selin; Chesnakov, Partsvaniya; Biliy, Konoplyanka, Yarmolenko; Zozulya.

Referee A Stavrev (Macedonia).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most