As England demolished an Andorra side at Wembley Stadium this evening with great ease, a number of players will be buzzing after putting in impressive performances.
Wayne Rooney will be delighted to have continued his fantastic international form, scoring his ninth and tenth goals in only seven matches.
Jermain Defoe will have been pleased to mark his international return after injury with a brace, despite coming off the bench.
David Beckham again rolled back the years and continued to look bright as he hopes to achieve his fourth call-up to the world’s greatest stage in South Africa next year.
There were many more performances this evening that—despite the “low quality” of the opposition—will lift the hearts of England supporters still hurting from a failure to qualify for last summer’s European Championship.
The performance from Portsmouth right-back Glen Johnson, however, rises above all of these. He has so far been England manager Fabio Capello’s preferred choice to fill the right-side of the defense, and who can blame him?
Johnson came off a mixed performance this weekend in England’s away match against Kazakhstan, but tonight found himself the provider for three of England’s six goals. His crossing was outstanding, and he rightly claimed the official “Man of the Match” award.
His form for his club Portsmouth has been even more impressive. Johnson turned in performances of the highest quality week-in and week-out for the club’s entire Premier League campaign in a Portsmouth side that looked a shadow of the previous season’s side that won the 2008 FA Cup.
Finding themselves in a Premier League relegation battle for much of the season, Johnson served as the rock in Portsmouth’s beleaguered and under-performing defense. In addition, however, he added a fantastic attacking game, chipping in with numerous important goals for the club, including Match of the Day’s November goal of the month against Hull City.
Johnson also went on to win the Portsmouth supporters’ Player of the Season award, the club’s Players’ Player of the Season award, and most importantly, inclusion in the Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year.
Not bad for a player who was deemed surplus to requirements at Chelsea three seasons earlier, and who was arrested and fined for shoplifting during his first season at Fratton Park.
In those three seasons, Johnson has matured from a player who reportedly left his passport behind before Chelsea’s crunch Champion’s League match in Barcelona in 2006, to a composed and mature footballer outclassing the world’s elite.
While Andorra may not be found in the upper echelons of the footballing world, anyone who watched Johnson’s performance in the UEFA Cup in December against AC Milan saw a right-back making some of the finest players in the world—including two past FIFA World Players of the Year—look decidedly average.
Now, despite having recently signed a new four and a half year deal with Portsmouth, he has continued to be linked away with moves to Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, and a return to Chelsea.
No one can truly question their interest, either; Johnson is arguably the best right-back in England right now, let alone the best English right-back.
With Portsmouth’s new-found wealth from new owner Sulaiman al-Fahim and having told the press he believes his England selection is down to regular football provided on the South Cast, it’s possible the player may find himself in a Portsmouth shirt for a while longer.
And with Portsmouth preparing to rebuild their squad after their disappointing campaign this season, building around a player of Johnson’s quality may be exactly their intention.
As for England fans, they can expect to see a right-back who is only going to continue to mature and improve his game as England push closer and closer towards the World Cup in South Africa.