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Lambert's rise to the top is "surreal"
6:00am Monday 9th September 2013 in Sport
RICKIE Lambert admits his England experience is “very surreal”.
The Saints talisman has made an extraordinary start to his senior international career after spending most of his career in the lower divisions.
He will play in the vital World Cup qualifier against Ukraine tomorrow aiming for his third goal in his first three games.
Lambert freely admits he could not have imagined what has happened to him in the course of the last year.
He revealed he is still scratching his head and wondering if it is real.
“All the time! It’s very surreal, it’s beyond any imagination what’s happening at the minute, but I’m trying to stay cool, I’m trying to do what’s important, and that’s trying to do well when the kick-off starts,” he said.
As for any specific moments that have stuck with him, Lambert said: “Just the players I’m playing with, the people who I’ve looked up to all my career.”
Having now been a part of two England squads, he has become more comfortable around his international teammates, which include one of his heroes, Steven Gerrard.
“I’m hoping there’s more to come,” he said.
“Being away with them for the amount of days has really helped me.
“I’m still getting to know the lads.
“I watch them on telly like everyone else, but I don’t really know them personally.
“To get to know them has been brilliant.”
At 31, Lambert has become the first player in 37 years to score in his first two appearances for England.
Even better, a player who spent most of his career in the lower leagues – he was an unused substitute at Stockport 10 years ago last week – has shown no sign of being overawed by sharing a dressing room with so many high-profile stars.
“Rickie is a very mature person who has seen all that football has to offer,” said boss Roy Hodgson.
“He has also seen if you are not in football, what life has to offer is maybe not as good comparably.
“The most important thing for Rickie is to feel confident, has the confidence of the coach and the coaching staff and to feel the players have confidence in him.
“You don't see anyone not wanting to give him the ball.
“I have not seen any sign of him not being very well integrated.”
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