Sport

Amazing England turnaround for Joleon Lescott after omission to captain’s armband against San Marino

By Pippa Field

From being overlooked completely to captaining your country saw a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for bit-part Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott.

Lescott was originally left out of England’s World Cup qualifying double-header with San Marino and Montenegro, but the centre-back profited from a late call up to replace Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand.

And his luck improved further still when he was handed the captain’s armband 65 minutes into last Friday match against San Marino – much to his delight.

“It was a great honour. I’ve had it before – the first time was in Norway but any time you get the armband, it’s great honour,” the 30-year-old said.

“I wasn’t in the squad originally, but the manager said he wouldn’t have any qualms if he needed to call me in.

“I think I was the oldest player on the pitch towards the end and the manager deemed it fit to give me the armband, which was a nice bonus.”

With Lescott also assuming skipper duties for 17 minutes of Roy Hodgson’s first match in charge last May, his England fortunes contrast starkly with his club form.

Often overlooked by boss Roberto Mancini, he has completed only ten league games all season – a factor in England manager Hodgson’s decision to originally omit him.

But with injuries to Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill, along with Ferdinand’s controversial withdrawal, the player found himself starting against San Marino.

Never troubled by their opponent’s blunt attack, Lescott played the entire match in a new central defensive pairing alongside United’s Chris Smalling.

It was his first start in a match for a fortnight – his last one coming for the Premier League champions against Barnsley in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

But the defender – whose single international goal came in England’s Euro 2012 opener against France last summer – insisted that he would always be ready for club and country.

“Any time I am called upon, I have to make sure I’m ready with City and England,” he said.

“It was a contrast after being left out but you’ve got to keep yourself prepared physically and I’ve been doing that.

“Playing for England is the ultimate achievement of your career. That’s 25 caps now, which is nice.”

Image courtesy of The FA, via YouTube, with thanks

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