Fabrice: I'll pass on my experience
Jamie Bradbury in Bitola
Friday, 04 September, 2009
The Under-21s midfielder wants to help his new team mates this campaign
As England prepare for their first Group Nine qualifying match, Fabrice Muamba says he wants to lead the Under-21s by example and help the new crop of players achieve success in the 2011 UEFA Under-21 Championship.
Stuart Pearce's men take on Macedonia in Prilep on Friday afternoon (2.30pm BST) in what is the first competitive game at that level since 29 June and their 4-0 defeat to Germany in the Euro 2009 Final. Muamba was part of that squad in Sweden, which went one step beyond the previous team two years earlier by reaching the Final.
However, without the silverware, the Bolton Wanderers midfielder believes their is still a job to do and wants his experience to help the new-look side complete the task in Denmark in 2011. But with a long road ahead of the Three Lions, Muamba knows it won't be easy.
"It's great to be back after the tournament and over the summer, with a new group of boys hopefully we get to gel as quickly as possible as we have an important game coming up," he told TheFA.com.
"I'm sure it's going to be a very tough game for us, but with the quality we've got in the side and the belief that we carry with us every time we get together will always show up and hopefully we can start with a win. There is a long way to go.
"It's the first time I've been in this country, it's a new experience but it's always good to come to these countries and the most important thing is we're here to do a job. Come tomorrow night hopefully we can talk about how good we were on the pitch."
He continued: "We have another tough game coming up on Tuesday, but we have the experience of people being in this kind of situation before. Even the boys who are on a trip for the first time hopefully we can all learn from each other and get the three points we need on Friday, and then Tuesday.
"It's our turn to step up. Me, (Lee) Cattermole, Michael (Mancienne), those boys who have been here for quite a long time now, this is the time we have to really show our character and pass on what we know from the past two years and hopefully they can learn from us."
And with the exeprience of Sweden still fresh in his mind, Muamba hopes that the lessons learned will help the whole squad during the new campaign. He added: "Looking back it was an unbelievable experience. With the players we had in that team I'm sure they will say how unlucky we were that we got to the Final and didn't perform to the best of our ability. Things never seemed to be going for us that day, but that's football, you live and learn. But we went out there and enjoyed ourselves and overall it was a good tournament.
"I just tried the best I can and the best I could for the team, but that's all in the past now. Hopefully I can come in this team and do my very very best and push on. There are loads of young players in this team and I want to set a good example out there, starting from tomorrow, if I'm in the starting eleven."
"This time we want to go all the way through. We've been to the semi-final, the Final, now we want to lift the trophy and it's about bringning the trophy back home now."
England’s first match is on Friday at 2.30pm (BST) at the 15,000 capacity Goce Delcev Stadium in Prilep, home to Macedonia First Division outfit FK Pobeda. They then fly to Tripoli in Greece for their second game on Tuesday evening, ko 5.00pm (BST).
To stay up to date with the Under-21s throughout their campaign, stay logged on to TheFA.com or become a Fan of Stuart Pearce's team on Facebook