Tottenham defender Steven Caulker achieves personal milestone with England debut

 

Steven Caulker achieved a personal milestone with less than two months to spare when making his England debut in last night's friendly international against Sweden in Stockholm.

The Tottenham defender had set his sights on making his breakthrough with the Three Lions before his 21st birthday which is on December 29.

Caulker not only reached that goal but also became the first England player to score on his first appearance since David Nugent against Andorra in Barcelona five and a half years ago.

He said: "A target of mine was wanting to make my England debut before I was 21.

"I managed to scrape in just before my 21st birthday so I am delighted with that.

"But to get a goal as well, I was delighted.

"I've started to hit the net a few times this year, scoring against Aston Villa and Manchester City, and I wanted to keep the run going."

Caulker received plenty of advice before the game and admits it was a massive learning curve facing four-goal Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He said: "A lot of the boys were very encouraging, especially Phil Jagielka who obviously wasn't playing.

"He was talking to me and telling me to be calm and collective. It was a big help.

"I thought it went well and I hope to improve and be back next time.

"I felt I learnt a lot especially against a world class striker and they were superb finishes from him. His fourth goal was the best I've seen in my career.

"It was a good experience and definitely a learning curve."

Caulker was unfortunate with Ibrahimovic's first goal, making a superb block only for the rebound to fall straight to the striker.

He said: "It happens as a defender. All you can do is chuck your body on the line and I was sad to see it hit the back of the net.

"But we bounced back and played good football in patches.

"There were plenty of plus points. I thought Leon Osman and Raheem Sterling really did well on their debuts.

"Raheem, for someone who is 17, looked fantastic and composed."

Caulker is now looking forward to Saturday's North London derby clash with Arsenal.

He said: "It's a massive game Saturday. I will get home and get my rest and look forward to Saturday.

"It's about recovery now for me. I've been used to it with playing in Europe. We play a lot away and travel back. I'm used to it. I'll get my legs up now and rest."

We did well for large parts of the game but Zlatan turned it on tonight and when he is like, he is virtually impossible to mark.

Caulker's club-mate, Tom Huddlestone, was also stunned by the quality of Ibrahimovic's fourth goal.

He said: "If you saw someone score like that on a computer game, you'd be surprised, never mind in person.

"Only himself and Lionel Messi are capable of turning a game like he did.

"It was probably the best goal I've ever seen, especially in a game in which I've been involved in."

Huddlestone added: "I thought the lads played well in large parts but Ibrahimovic took the game away from us really.

"The performance, not the result, we can take a lot from."

PA

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