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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 10:02 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


It was a proud moment for me on Wednesday night when I made my full international debut for England against Australia.

Although, naturally, the result took some gloss off the occasion, it still could not detract too much from what has been the highlight of my career to date.

I'm no complete stranger to international duty, having won England Under-21 caps.

Nothing can prepare you for that moment when you pull on that shirt and walk out as an England player

But being with the senior squad is just something completely different and special.

We joined up on Monday morning and trained in the afternoon.

The Manchester United players and others who played Sunday were excused the Monday training session but we were all together on Tuesday.

That was the day when it really hit me that I was involved with the England squad.

The training wasn't vastly different from what we do at club level and it was conducted by Sammy Lee and Brian Kidd.

James Beattie shares a joke with Aston Villa's Darius Vassell
There was time for a laugh during the serious business of training

Sven-Goran Eriksson kept a watchful eye on everything and you could tell that he was sizing things up all the time.

We did some exercises in drills and general team shape and I lined up in the team that looked as though it was going to start the match.

I didn't actually know what team I was going to be in until Wednesday when Mr Eriksson pulled me to one side and told me I would be in the starting line-up.

Although he made it clear to everyone from the outset we would only be playing for 45 minutes, it still meant a lot to me to be in the starting line-up.

No matter how many times you watch England games on television, nothing can prepare you for that moment when you pull on that shirt and walk out as an England player.

James Beattie on his international debut for England
A proud moment for any player when he wears an England shirt

I'm lucky in that I don't really suffer from nerves, but when I lined up with the others and the national anthem began, it did send a shiver down my spine.

It was a very proud moment for me, and I know it was for my mum and dad and all my relatives.

As for the game itself. Well, for all the criticism levelled at England's first-half performance, you have to give credit to the Australians.

They played really well and I thought Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were outstanding.

They worked very hard all over the pitch, closing us down and making sure that the supply to us front men was kept to a minimum.

My currency this season has been scoring goals and if I carry on scoring, I would hope it earns me another chance

As I say, I knew from the start that I was only going to play 45 minutes, and it's difficult to make an impression in that time.

I was given a job to do by Mr Eriksson and I was determined to do that. What I couldn't do was run around like a lunatic trying to impress and catch his eye.

The way to do that was to carry out the job I was given.

I felt I did well, and Mr Eriksson congratulated me afterwards.

Have I done enough to get in next time?

I don't know. Only Mr Eriksson can answer that.

What I have got to do is get my head down, and do what I did to get me into the reckoning in the first place.

My currency this season has been scoring goals and if I carry on scoring, I would hope it earns me another chance.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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14 Feb 03 | England
13 Feb 03 | England
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