Jay Rodriguez interview: World Cup 2014 heartache is hard to take for Southampton forward

 

Jay Rodriguez is not part of the England squad that will face Peru in Friday’s friendly before flying to Miami and then on to Brazil, but he is not very far from their thoughts.

The Southampton forward was in the form of his life when his season ended while playing Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on 5 April, when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The injury devastated Rodriguez, who had earlier broken into the England set-up, leaving him in tears in the dressing room afterwards with no hope of making the World Cup.

The striker was lifted, though, by the kind words of his international team-mates, those who would be going to Brazil without him, including Manchester City’s goalkeeper. “Joe Hart came in after the game and said a few nice things,” Rodriguez, still in a knee support, recalled last week. “Wayne Rooney texted me, which was really good, and Theo Walcott texted because he’s going through the same process.” Walcott had ruptured the same ligament in his left knee three months previously.

The England manager, Roy Hodgson, who gave Rodriguez his international debut against Chile last November, called as well. “He spoke to me and said some really nice things, which really gave me a lift. It was a really nice call from him. It meant a lot to me.”

“It’s really nice to know that people care. It shows what great team spirit and bunch of lads they are. It’s really nice and made me feel a lot better.”

No one knows for sure whether Rodriguez, if fit, would have made Hodgson’s final 23 for the World Cup. But despite missing the final five matches of the season, he finished with 15 Premier League goals. Of English players, only Wayne Rooney and Danny Sturridge scored more.

 

But Rodriguez is not too downhearted, sticking with his belief that “everything happens for a reason”. He will watch the England games as a fan at home in Hampshire, albeit a fan watching some of his closest friends.

“For me it was great news,” Rodriguez said of the inclusion in the squad of Southampton team-mates Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert. “I never had any doubt they would go. They’re good friends so it gives me a boost just seeing them there because they fully deserve it. It means everything to me they are there.”

As for his own absence, Rodriguez remains philosophical. “I never expect anything in my life and my career,” said the man who, in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, had been on loan at Barnsley, recovering from a broken ankle. “I would never talk about ‘what if’, or anything like that. I’ll just be happy to see the England team out there for the World Cup, hopefully doing really well.”

It must be painful for Rodriguez but he has been on the way back to fitness for almost two months now, and is pleased with his progress. “I pretty much knew straight away,” he says of the awkward landing. “I felt something in my knee. The physio ran on, I said, ‘Is it a big one?’, and he said, ‘Yes, but don’t worry, you start recovering from now’. It was quite hard to take.”

Rodriguez speaks with warmth about the help he has received from Saints’ physio Matt Radcliffe and the leading knee surgeon Andy Williams, who operated on him one month ago. “I sat down with the surgeon and he explained what’s going to happen,” Rodriguez said. “I got focused and thought this was another test in my career, that I can overcome and come out stronger. I’ve got great faith in Andy Williams, he’s a great guy, I felt really confident having met him. The surgery went unbelievably well. Now I’m waiting for the scar to heal and get the swelling down.”

Rodriguez is eager to watch England on TV Rodriguez is eager to watch England on TV

There is lots of hard work left as Rodriguez tries to get fit for next season. His focus is on muscle building and getting movement back in his knee. “I’ve reached my targets so far,” he said, “and I am happy with how it’s going.” Rodriguez would not set a time for his return and his instinct is to be cautious.

What this means is a summer spent primarily at Southampton’s training ground, in what will be a transitional period for the club. With manager Mauricio Pochettino having left for Spurs and some of his team-mates linked with moves, Rodriguez hopes that the club continues to be ambitious.

“There are no limits to what we can do,” Rodriguez said. “If Southampton want to improve there is no reason why they shouldn’t. It’s been a great journey for the past three or four years, and I hope that it carries on.”

Rodriguez also wonders whether more teams might learn from the way Southampton have gone about gaining that success. “It’d be great if teams did learn from it,” he said. “I really enjoy playing this way, all the lads enjoy it and it’s good to see young English lads come through the academy. It’s a great way [of playing] to set out to a club.”

Jay Rodriguez was supporting the PlayStation Schools’ Cup National Finals. This season has attracted close to 2,000 schools entries and 100,000 participants. Visit www.playstationschoolscup.com

Suggested Topics
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
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

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup