IT’S the international break and England are back on the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign trail.

I’m pleased to see young Southampton full back Nathaniel Clyne win a call-up to the senior squad.

I hope it’s the start of a long and distinguished England career for him.

People often ask how many caps I won, but unfortunately I never got to feel the thrill Clyne will have received when his call-up came.

I was proud to win some major trophies in my career, but never got to wear the Three Lions shirt.

It’s not something I regret, but it would have been great to look back and say at one stage in my career I was the best in my position and had represented my country.

When I first burst on the scene playing for Chelsea, I was being touted as an England certainty within the next couple of years.

A popular football magazine put me in a fantasy XI predicting an England team for the 1998 World Cup.

I was in it, alongside the likes of David Beckham and Paul Gascoigne.

At that time the central defensive partnership for England was Tony Adams and Gareth Southgate, who were immense.

Behind them were the likes of Martin Keown and a young Sol Campbell trying to break that partnership.

Those four players went on to win 238 England caps between them in their careers.

Mark Wright and Gary Pallister had both only just retired from international football and when you think Manchester United captain Steve Bruce wasn’t even getting called up it just showed the wealth of riches England could call upon in central defence.

So even bursting on the scene and showing all this promise and talent, there was a brick wall of competition that was hard to knock down.

After suffering some bad injuries, by the time I returned to form, the wall seemed even higher and deeper.

England’s central defenders were now Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand, which then became Ferdinand and Terry, whose partnership couldn’t be broken up apart from injury and off-field issues.

The depth of talent in that position was at its strongest in the early 2000s and England had more than a few world class centre backs.

Ledley King and Jamie Carragher were both in that category, but couldn’t split Ferdinand and Terry.

Adding to the competition there was Jonathan Woodgate, Joleon Lescott, and Matthew Upson.

My peers had great England careers – Rio Ferdinand won 81 caps, John Terry 78 caps, Jamie Carragher 38 caps and Ledley King 21.

Getting a call-up was near impossible at that point, but playing for your country was always a dream, so I never gave up hope.

I turned down the chance to play for my parents’ home country, the Caribbean island of Montserrat, who wanted me. But I said ‘no thanks’, as my ambition was to play for England.

That call never came but I look back with a smile at my chances and near misses.

There have been better players who were never capped, so I don’t worry about it.

When I look back and see the players I was competing against, it makes it easier to be stress free, as some of them will go down as England greats.

My dream is still alive in the form of my sons – as long as they have the desire to play football then I have the hope of seeing them in an England shirt.

Good luck England.

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