B/R Speaks to Gary Cahill About Roy Hodgson, Stamford Bridge and More
Gary Cahill has had one crazy year.
On January 1 he was a Bolton player, but now he's a UEFA Champions League winning star who's a big presence in the England national team.
With a busy summer followed by a tumultuous start to the domestic season too, it's never quiet when the Chelsea man is around.
Here's what Cahill had to say in the mixed zone when I caught up with him at the England Footballers Foundation's prestigious annual event.
QUESTION: You're here today to represent the England Footballers Foundation. Do you think it's an important thing to get involved with—especially for English footballers with the profile they carry?
GARY CAHILL: It's important for all the England players to get involved and we love to do so. It's a great charity and it's good to see all the old faces here—especially all the old legends like Stan Collymore and Dennis Wise.
Q: Football is your business, your living, but can you accept the fact many others play it purely for fun? Can you still play for fun?
GC: Yeah of course! I still go out when I'm back home and watch my friends play in Sunday league! It's all fun, it's all banter. The main thing, no matter what level you're playing at, is to enjoy it.
Q: Do you think budding English footballers are getting enough opportunities to play at club level?
GC: Good question. The statistics over the last year or year and a half suggest not. Why is that? I'm not sure. The English Premier League is a great competition and it's incredibly tough to break into, especially when clubs can look abroad to bring players in.
Q: You must sympathise, then, with young stars on the outside looking in, wanting Roy Hodgson to notice them but knowing they've got to dislodge a host of world-class stars to do so?
GC: It's such a huge game and people want instant success. It makes it so difficult for young players coming through at English clubs to get an opportunity to make an impact.
Q: How's the last week or so been for you?
GC: Yeah, it's been alright! Eventful. It's [Roberto Di Matteo's sacking] part and parcel of football. You get on with it, you work hard, you train, don't dwell too much on things and hopefully we can keep improving. You have to remain focused.
Q: Are you surprised how fast you became a senior player in the England fold?
GC: It's happened very quickly. When I was first called up I probably travelled to 10 or 11 games before I even won my first cap. It wasn't as easy as just coming in and playing. From the moment I won my first cap to now, it has been quite quick, but I still don't feel complacent at all. I've only played half the games under the new gaffer so I feel like I have to work a bit harder still.
Q: During those 10 or 11 games when you were waiting in the wings, were you eager to get going or happy to learn from the established internationals?
GC: I was eager to get playing, but the first few times were a new experience. You don't expect to come in straight away and play, so it was a definite learning curve for me. Travelling away and everything that comes with it is something you have to get used to. When my debut came around, I felt like I was familiar with the setup and ready to play.
Q: Hodgson didn't get a lot of time to work with the players before Euro 2012. How has training changed now he's got more time to implement his ideas?
GC: It's changed quite a bit and it continues to do so. He [Hodgson] is using a lot of different players and has had the chance to look at a fair few in friendlies. It's quite relaxed now, which is great, but it's hard for him because he only gets three days to put across his ideas. He has a lot of information to get across in a short space of time and sometimes it's not possible. It'll all come with time.
Q: You're a technically sound centre-half. Have you harboured any thoughts of playing in a different position later in your career?
GC: If you ask me now I'd rather stay at the back where I know what I'm doing! Or at least I like to think I know what I'm doing. It's not easy to just change positions if you've spent time learning a specific one, but I did play in midfield when I was younger!
Cahill was speaking at the EFF's annual Charity Cup, where 16 teams were formed to compete and raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Each team was managed by a past footballing star, with Gianfranco Zola, Phil Babb and Gus Poyet among others involved.
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