SAINTS star Adam Lallana has spoken of his delight at having a contingent of the club's past and present players in England’s World Cup squad.
Roy Hodgson’s men are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for their first group D game – against Italy on Saturday night – and Lallana looks increasingly likely to be handed a starting spot.
But the fact he and fellow Saint Luke Shaw, plus former St Mary’s stars Rickie Lambert and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain are mixing it with the world’s best just three seasons after Saints’ time in League 1 is not lost on the 26 year old.
“It is great to kind of meet up again with Chambo and be here with Rickie.
“It is great when you talk of the journey we’ve been on and what a remarkable achievement it is.
“We’re just enjoying it – well, I certainly am and I know Rickie is as well.
“I’m just going to keep enjoying it and take it in our stride.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain, understandably, is not having such a great time so far, given a medial ligament damage sustained last week is threatening his World Cup place. Lambert, now 32, appears more than content to be involved in the squad, while Lallana is pushing for a starting role in the Group D opener - two years after watching England get knocked out by them at Euro 2012 from his sofa.
"I want to be here and play, keep working hard in training and doing all I can to force myself in to the first eleven," he said.
"I know what my job is. The better I play the more chance I have to stay in the team or if not then to make a contribution from the bench.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I am just going to keep focusing on training hard and doing as much as I can to impress the manager.
"Three years ago I was playing in League One so just to be here at a World Cup is a massive achievement and anything else is a bonus."
The surprise rise forced Lallana to bring his wedding forward six months to avoid missing a first major tournament - one which he has come to with a personalised wash bag made by his wife, Emily, with pictures of their young son, Arthur.
Family is important to the 26-year-old who will be joined in Brazil by some of those closest to him less than a decade after a heart defect threatened his career - an issue he looks at philosophically.
"It was a challenging time, but people have worse problems out there than I did and come through them," Lallana said.
"It wasn’t nice at the time, no, but I was lucky enough to have a good family around me and the club were good with me at the time."