Everton midfielder Leon Osman speaks after his call-up to the England squad
Leon Osman says he never gave up hope of playing for England as he prepares to make his debut for the Three Lions at the age of 31-years-old.
The Everton midfielder starred for England at U15 and U16 level but was unable to make the breakthrough into the senior squad despite becoming a regular at club level.
But having been called up by Roy Hodgson for Wednesday's friendly with Sweden, Osman hopes this is just the start.
He said: "I hoped the chance of playing international football hadn't passed me by.
"I always said I would never give up hope and as an English lad you are dying to play for your country.
"I was still hopeful but I had stopped worrying if it would happen.
"I've developed late in my career but it's great to be here and I'm hoping to get a cap.
"That's the way it starts, but the character I am I know that once I have got one cap I'll want two caps, then four caps and so on. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do that.
"I hope I can be an inspiration.
"It just shows if you keep believing, concentrate on your form and make sure that is good, you may one day get recognised."
Another new face in the squad is Crystal Palace's Wilf Zaha, who was promoted from the England Under-21 squad on Sunday.
And after seeing him at close quarters in training on Monday morning, Osman believes he can be a bit asset for the Three Lions.
He added: "We have all been hearing about how well Zaha has been playing in the Championship for a year or so.
"He has certainly been on everyone's radar. He trained this morning, was direct and skilful and was committing people. He looks the real deal."
Osman also paid tribute to old adversary Steven Gerrard, who will win his 100th cap for his country if he shakes off a knee injury to take part against Sweden.
"It's fantastic for him to get 100 caps," said Osman. "Only a select band of people have managed to do it and he deserves to be in that crowd.
"He is a fantastic player and leader of me with lots of great attributes. We used to play against each other when we were aged 12 or 13 on Merseyside, and to see him get his 100th cap is fantastic but not surprising."