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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent