Conor Coady on England ambitions, squad camaraderie, new arrivals, women’s football and more | Football News

“I never take it for granted. It’s the best feeling in the world and the biggest privilege a footballer can ever have.”

For England international Conor Coady, being selected to represent his country will never get old. At the age of 29, the Wolves captain might have only nine senior caps to his name, but he is no stranger to the international scene.

Having led England U17s to victory at the 2010 European Championship to become the first men’s team to win an international tournament in 17 years, Coady made his senior debut a decade later against Denmark in the Nations League. In doing so, he was the first Wolves player to start for England since Steve Bull in 1990.

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Highlights of the international friendly between England and Switzerland at Wembley

He was awarded man of the match for that fixture and a month later scored his first goal in a friendly win over Wales at Wembley. He was then named in the squad that were runners-up at Euro 2020 last summer.

Reporting for England duty is and always will be special.

“I never get used to the feeling because if you do, I think you become a little bit comfortable,” Coady tells Sky Sports from England’s training base at St George’s Park before starting Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Switzerland.

“Getting comfortable is something I’ve never done in my life, I never would do. Being called up by your country is the biggest privilege a footballer can ever have in their life, so I’ve never got comfortable and I’ll never take it for granted.

“I always try to do my best every single day and that’s something I’ll always do, so I’ve never really got used to it because every time I come here it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s an incredible moment just to be part of this group and part of this group of lads again.”

Being called up by your country is the biggest privilege a footballer can have in their life, so I’ve never got comfortable and I’ll never take it for granted

Conor Coady

‘Feel-good factor is natural with this squad’

Representing England in the current era is arguably even more appealing under manager Gareth Southgate, who since taking charge in 2016 appears to have united the players, regardless of the clubs they represent.

Gone are the days of “tribalism”, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher once said to describe the atmosphere within some of the England squads he was involved in.

In the current camp, Coady insists the feel-good factor is no conscious effort.

“It’s something natural that comes with this group of players. It’s something natural that comes from the manager, his staff and the people who surround the manager and his staff as well.

“We all enjoy spending time together and it’s not changed since the Euros and didn’t change before the Euros. It was always something that was a part of us and that’s something the gaffer has created since being here.”

Conor Coady, England
Coady believes the positive environment in the England squad under Gareth Southgate comes naturally

Despite not making an appearance at Euro 2020, Coady was dubbed England’s “player of the tournament” by assistant boss Steve Holland for “giving everything” on the training pitch and his off-field influence.

He played just 360 minutes during Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022 qualifiers, with Southgate preferring to start John Stones, Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings in central defence.

But when discussing what he wants to achieve at international level, it’s clear Coady’s long-term goal is a simple one.

“Just helping people. Keep helping people as much as possible.

“There’s lots of competition all over the pitch. I don’t think it’s just at centre-back. There are some incredible English footballers within this country and around the world at the minute. As long as I’m part of this squad and I keep getting picked, it’s about helping people and giving the best of myself every single day.

“My goals are to keep coming here and giving the best of myself every single time I’m called upon to try and help the team, to try and help the country and help my team-mates.”

Coady impressed by new additions

Coady’s advice may well be needed by some new recruits in England’s squad this month.

Crystal Palace defenders Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell, as well as Southampton full-back Kyle Walker-Peters, all received senior call-ups for the first time and made their debuts against Switzerland on Saturday.

“All of them have stood out,” Coady says. “We obviously play against them every week in the Premier League, we know how good they are from playing against them and we have a massive amount of respect for them straight away. For them to come into the England squad, it’s fantastic for everybody.

“We see the quality they have in training, we see what they’re like on the ball, we see how they play. They’re fantastic footballers but I think more importantly they’re fantastic people and that’s what this squad’s for. It’s full of absolutely brilliant people who want to try and help and they’re no different.

“It’s brilliant to see them in here, but at the same time it’s great to see how settled they are on the pitch and showing what they can do because they’ve been fantastic.”

Coady: We will learn from Euro final defeat

With the World Cup just eight months away, England will head to Qatar among the favourites following their run to the semi-finals in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020.

As they work towards finally landing their first piece of major silverware since 1966, Coady believes Southgate’s side can build on the penalty shootout loss to Italy at Wembley.

“I think we can learn so much from that. That’s something this group of players, this squad, this team, have done ever so well at since the World Cup in 2018 and the Nations League – trying to take on board everything we’ve done.

“We can learn so much. Whether it be in games, tactical stuff or obviously being around the place as well, so there’s always stuff we can improve on and always stuff we can learn. That’s something we try to do every time we meet up as well.”

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England captain Harry Kane says the squad and management have discussed the topic of human rights issues in Qatar ahead of this year’s World Cup

‘Euro 2022 can enhance women’s game’

It is not only a huge year for the England men’s side. March 28 marks 100 days until the start of the 2022 Women’s European Championship on home soil.

The Lionesses are unbeaten under Sarina Wiegman since she took charge last September – winning seven of her nine matches – and Coady thinks this summer’s tournament will further strengthen the women’s game.

“First and foremost it will enhance it and I think that will be massive. I think it will be huge for the girls and the women to have that exposure.

“It will be fantastic and what the women’s game is doing is absolutely incredible. It’s getting more prominence on the telly – I’m certainly tuning in and watching it.

“It’s brilliant and we’re all behind them. I think everybody in the country is behind them to push and hopefully do well in the summer.”

England are winners of the Arnold Clark Cup after two late goals saw them beat Germany 3-1
England Women won the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup last month

‘Openness a key part of captaincy’

In the build-up to the Women’s Euros, the Where Greatness is Made campaign has been launched by England Football and Nationwide Building Society, focusing on the people and places that have helped iconic England Women captains reach the top of their profession.

As part of the initiative, a series of commemorative plaques will be installed in the hometowns of six captains, including Sheila Parker, the first-ever skipper of the England women’s team.

As an established Premier League captain, Coady appreciates those who have assisted him on his own journey. Having grown up in Merseyside, he joined Liverpool’s academy in 2005 before later moving to Sheffield United and Huddersfield. He then signed for Wolves in 2015, where he has made over 300 appearances.

Conor Coady, England
The Where Greatness is Made campaign has been launched by England Football and Nationwide Building Society

“I’d be daft not to mention my parents because my mum and dad made me want to play football every day and made me want to enjoy football every day because of where they’ve taken me and what they’ve done for me, so they’re a massive part of it.

“There was also a coach when I was in the academy at Liverpool, Frank McParland, who really pushed me not just as a football player, but as a person as well. He taught me how to be a good person, how to treat people with respect and things like that, so he has had a massive influence on my life too.”

Coady, Wolves
Coady is an established Premier League captain and has impressed for Wolves this season

Coady has taken the skills learned in his younger years and applied them in his role as Wolves captain, a position he has held permanently since the 2018-19 season.

Asked what makes a successful leader, he said: “Openness. That’s a big part of it for me. It’s being open as much as you possibly can.

“Whether that be with players who are at the club already or players who are just coming to the club, being open with them and letting them know you’re there for them at all times no matter what, that you’ve got their back, is a massive part of it.”

Conor Coady, Wolves
Coady has made over 300 appearances for Wolves and been the club’s permanent captain since the 2018-19 season

Watch England live on Sky Sports

England’s March internationals will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Watch England vs Ivory Coast live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm on Tuesday; kick-off 7.45pm.

Tuesday 29th March 7:00pm

Kick off 7:45pm

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