BOBBY ZAMORA knows how those England players reeling from major-tournament heartbreak are feeling today.
Bobby Zamora has his own personal take on missing out on a big tournament and is now fronting a campaign encouraging men to seek help if needed
Ex-Spurs, West Ham and Fulham striker Bobby Zamora won two England capsCredit: Dave Pinegar – The Sun
Zamora was left out of the Three Lions’ 2010 World Cup squad – although it was his own decision, rather than that of manager Fabio Capello.
The striker had had a sensational season with Fulham, helping them reach the Europa League final, but had been struggling with an Achilles injury towards the end of the campaign.
Zamora, 40, recalled: “I shouldn’t have even played the Europa League final. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
“Fabio Capello was aware of how I was. I remember sitting in the back garden and having a conversation on the phone.
He said, ‘I want you in the squad, you’re 100 per cent going to come’.
“But I needed an operation. If I had gone, would I have trained? No. If I hadn’t trained, would I have been selected to play? Not really. It wouldn’t make sense.
“I thought if I was there, all the other players would be looking at me thinking, ‘You’ve come all this way, but you’re not really part of this squad because you’re not playing’.
Man Utd midfielder Jesse Lingard, outstanding on loan for West Ham, has narrowly missed out on the England squad for Euro 2020
Southampton star James Ward-Prowse is another player deemed unlucky to not be going to the Euros with the Three LionsCredit: AFP
“Probably looking back I should have just gone just for the experience. I do think about it sometimes. It’s a hard memory to think about.”
Zamora made the second of his two appearances for England the year after the 2010 World Cup, but that was that for the then 31-year-old when it came to playing for his country.
He does feel there is a big incentive just 12 months away for those who missed out this time, though.
“Maybe you take it as a positive. It drives you to improve and to be better, to make sure you’re in the next squad.”
One man who will hope to be going to Qatar next year is Brighton’s Ben White.
The 23-year-old was included in Southgate’s 33-man long list before then being omitted.
Albion are bracing themselves for bids for the centre-back this summer, with Manchester United among his admirers.
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Zamora hopes White stays at the Amex but does think the fact that the defender’s team-mate Lewis Dunk has been consistently overlooked for England could be a factor.
The ex-striker, who had two spells with the Seagulls, added: “Dunky is one of those players that if he played in Manchester United’s team or Chelsea, he would be in that squad without a shadow of a doubt.
“The same goes for Ben White. I remember Ben when I was at Brighton my second time round.
“Ben was a young lad who would come up and train with us.
“He had a confidence and a little bit of an arrogance about him. Not too much, just being up playing with the pros and not shying away.
“That goes a long way and you can see that now, you can see how he is on the ball.
“He has a very bright future and I can see him wearing an England jersey in the future.”
I’m the typical guy. I never spoke about anything ever, until this year… I got to the stage where I felt I needed to speak to someone and it’s helped.
The subject of mental health and how sport stars deal with the spotlight has come sharply into focus this week following the Naomi Osaka press conference furore at the French Open.
Being left out of squads comes with the territory of being a professional footballer, but it does not mean it does not take its toll psychologically.
Zamora himself has only felt ready to open up about any struggles he personally has been going through in the last year.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on his business interests which include property development, a travel business and football coaching.
Zamora has been seeing a counsellor recently and has urged more people in football to speak out when they are struggling mentally.
He is working Brighton-based mental health charity Strong Men, which supports men through grief and is running a campaign called #BAREYOURSELF to encourage sufferers to open up.
It is co-founded by Efrem Brynin, whose son James, an Albion fan, was killed on his second tour of Afghanistan in 2013.
Zamora added: “Efrem is an inspirational guy and I was only too happy to help.
“I’m the typical guy. I never spoke about anything ever, until this year.
“This year has been so hard for everybody in terms of life, family, business, everything. Every person has been affected. It’s not any one topic.
“I got to the stage where I felt I needed to speak to someone and it’s helped.
“You’re vulnerable but afterwards you feel the relief of being able to get things off your chest.”
- For more information on the #BAREYOURSELF campaign, go to strongmen.org.uk or text STRONG to 70085 to donate £5.
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