Andrew Surman was at the centre of an international tug-of-war, but he's delighted to have chosen England.
Montenegro v England
2009 UEFA European Championship Group 3 Qualifier
Friday 7 September 2007
City Stadium, Podgorica
Southampton's Andrew Surman has been at the centre of an international battle for his services but is delighted to have pledged his future to England.
The South African-born midfielder was scouted by Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira last month but jumped at the chance to join up with Stuart Pearce's England U21 squad this week.
Surman, now in Montenegro preparing for Friday's Euro 2009 qualifier, can't wait for the chance to pull on an England shirt.
The 21-year-old told TheFA.com: "Stuart Pearce was at our game against Stoke recently and there were a few rumours but I never expected the call up, it has all happened very quickly.
"The South Africa manager was also at that game and I spoke to him afterwards out of respect but I consider myself English because even though I was born in South Africa, my Mum and Dad are English and I've lived here since I was eight.
"Obviously it would have been an honour to play for South Africa as well as it would be for England but it would have involved a lot of travelling and this is a good set-up with a good manager in Stuart Pearce so it wasn't really a difficult decision."
Surman came close to representing England as a schoolboy.
He explained: "When I was 15 I had England trials. I didn't get selected but it was a great experience at that age. I think Tom Huddlestone and Luke Moore where there as well then.
"A lot of the lads here have played together before in youth squads but everyone has been really welcoming, they are all good lads."
There are also familiar faces from St Mary's in the squad and Surman is glad to be working again with former Southampton manager and director of youth Steve Wigley who is Pearce's assistant with the U21s.
He explained: "He was excellent with the young lads at Saints, you can see how many have come through.
"In this squad I played with Theo Walcott, Dexter Blackstock and Martin Cranie at Southampton who have all since moved on."
Surman added: "I feel like I've established myself a bit more at the club this season. But you can never rest on your laurels. As soon as you think you've cemented your place you lose it. In terms of England I need to keep playing well every match to get selected."
England face Montenegro in the first European Championship qualifier of the season on Friday night.
Interest in the fixture is high in the former Yugoslav state as the match will be the first competitive game for the newly-independent country at any level.
A sell-out crowd is expected at the Gradski Stadium in Podgorica and Surman expects a tough contest.
"They are going to make it difficult for us and sit behind the ball and defend. We wouldn't expect anything else because its a big game for them. But I'm pretty confident we can get a result here."
England's next game on home soil will be against Montenegro at Leicester next month. To book tickets and find out more about the game,