John Stones: 'Singing the anthem was surreal'

Thursday 04 Sep 2014
John Stones made his first start for England against Norway

John Stones admitted that his first start for England on Wednesday night was a "surreal" experience and a "dream come true". 

The Everton defender was introduced to senior international football in the build-up to the World Cup and made two appearances as the team prepared for Brazil.

Roy Hodgson handed the 20-year-old a place in his starting eleven as England began their new campaign with a Wembley friendly against Norway.

England 1-0 Norway

International Match
Wednesday 3 September 2014
Wembley Stadium connected by EE

And Stones, who was one of a number of young players in a side with an average age of 24, says he was also given some words of encouragement by some Goodison team-mates. 

"It was very surreal, singing the national anthem out there with players who I have watched for years and years," he told at full-time. "To be out there was an absolute dream come true.

"There were a lot of young and exciting players with the likes of Wayne [Rooney] and the experienced players still in there to keep us grounded and knowing what we are doing on the pitch.

"I think there was a great combination tonight of youth and experience. 

"Jags [Phil Jagielka] is always talking to me before the game and all the defenders and keeper were giving me advice and wishing me good luck, which is always nice. 

"Jags and Bainesy, my team-mates at Everton, are always helping me out and I thank them for that."

John Stones speaks to FATV

Captain Rooney netted the only goal of the game from the spot midway through the second half and he feels their dominance should have been rewarded with more.

However, Stones was equally happy with a clean-sheet, particularly after a slow start to the second half.

And now, as they head to St. George's Park for a few days training before flying to Switzerland for Monday's opening Euro 2016 qualifier, he says there is more time for them to improve.

"We've been working hard in training on our shape and I thought we caused them a lot of problems, not only defensively but on the attack we looked really sharp. We could have had many more goals than that," he said.

John Stones

John Stones lines up for the national anthem

"The gaffer has been drilling it into us about our defensive shape and I think tonight there were a lot of positives.

"We've got to put the World Cup behind us and that's a great start here at Wembley, a 1-0 victory. Hopefully we can take that forward and keep progressing.

He added: "There were a lot of good passes forward and a lot of good chances, and we could have been more clinical and scored more goals. But we got the goal in the end and that's all that matters I suppose.

"We've got to take that performance, work hard on the training pitch these next few days and hopefully get another win out [in Switzerland]."

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor at Wembley Stadium