World Cup profiles… James Milner: Teetotal Manchester City man goes from Leeds ball boy to Brazil

Unfashionable, unfancied and the man considered boring enough to have a parody Twitter account to his name – James Milner seems to have plenty of reasons to have let his hair down and knocked back a few drinks.

Yet he claims to have never touched a drop, demonstrating the kind of dedication and work rate that have put him on the brink of appearing at his second World Cup finals.

Milner is far from being the most talented footballer and aside from application and desire appears to offer very little to any team he is selected for.

Despite these drawbacks, the utility midfielder continues to be highly regarded by both club and national managers.

Milner has progressed through the England youth system, all the way from under-15s to the national side – and holds the national record for under-21 appearances with 46.

Formerly of Leeds and Newcastle, Milner joined Manchester City in 2010 for a staggering £26million.

From owning a season ticket on the terraces of Elland Road, to becoming ball boy at the club, before joining the Leeds United academy – James Milner has certainly paid his dues on his way to becoming a Man City star.

After being announced in Roy Hodgson’s provisional 23-man squad for Brazil, the midfielder will be keen to make an impact at his second World Cup calling.

Back in South Africa 2010, the 28-year old was given the nod in the opening match against USA but came off after 30 minutes.

Now set for his second World Cup, Milner will be desperate to avoid going down as one of England’s forgotten men, along with his childhood idol Alan Smith.

Former Manchester United man Smith’s name will never be banished from the streets of Leeds, following his glistening career in the club’s golden era, but his international career was unduly cut short.

Part of that can be put down to the outlandish midfielder’s bizarre personal choices, this was a man who chose to play for Manchester United’s reserves in place of representing his country.

His spell on the international stage lasted just three games, while Milner has already outreached that number significantly, his temperament and dedication to the game is sure to guarantee a lengthy career on the international front.

Milner now has 45 England caps to his name and he will be expected to add to that at the World Cup.

While Milner may be unspectacular, unflashy and let’s face it pretty boring, it seems certain he will play a significant role for Roy Hodgson’s men in Brazil.

Every side needs a utility man, the man who isn’t that great but can be not that great in a number of different positions.

Milner can be that man and Hodgson will rely heavily on his defensive skills and tireless energy in the heat of Brazil – making him a crucial squad member.

Main image courtesy of Sky Sports via YouTube, with thanks.

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