It’s over ten years ago now, but for Jordan Henderson matches against Czech Republic should always have a special meaning.
Back in March 2009, the Three Lions midfielder was a youngster from Sunderland in his first ever England squad for an U19 match against the Czechs at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium.
And while Henderson admits he can’t remember any details about the game itself, a 0-0 draw in front of just less than 4000 people, it was the start of his England journey.
“I was quite late coming into England set up really,” he said.
“I only made one appearance for the U19s and then one for the U20s and I was straight into the U21s after that, when I started training more regularly and playing more games.
“It’s too long ago to remember much about the game but I remember I’d gone out to Coventry on loan at the time, so it was a one-off for me really.
“I was working with some good players in that Coventry team at the time, we had a good manager in Chris Coleman and I was fortunate to go there and play some first-team games.
“People see you more in the shop window so it must’ve come from that, because I know Eric Black first saw me at Coventry and when him and Steve Bruce came in at Sunderland later that summer they knew all about me, so it was good that they’d watched us playing for Coventry.”
Now, the Liverpool man is preparing to face the Czechs again on a bigger stage as England head out to Prague aiming to seal qualification for next summer’s UEFA EURO 2020 Finals.
“It’s important for us to go out there and put on a good performance,” he added. “We want to improve every time we play and we want to win and qualify.
“We’ve been working on one or two things this week which we want to bring into the game so hopefully we can take that into Friday.
“It’s another test for us and there’ll be a good atmosphere. I’m sure they’ll be up for it, they can still qualify as well, so they’ll want to cause an upset and do everything they can to beat us.
“For us, it’s about doing what we’ve been doing and working on the things we need to improve on.
“We want to win, it’s an opportunity to go and perform and improve as a team. We’re not together very often so when we are, we need to make the most of it in training and in the games.
“We’ve still got a bit of work to do before next summer comes around so hopefully we can get the job done in the next two games in terms of qualification and then look at improvement for the summer.”
England will be back at home next month when they host Montenegro in what will be the Three Lions’ 1000th game.TICKETS: ENGLAND V MONTENEGRO