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DAVID HOLDSWORTH: Three Lions experiences were simply unforgettable

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: October 19, 2012

  • Lincoln City manager David Holdsworth

  • Enjoy it while it lasts: Jonjo Shelvey has been called up to the England squad

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Jonjo Shelvey should enjoy every moment of his call up to the England squad, even though I do feel he is a little bit lucky.

I know what that buzz is like to be informed you will represent your country, because I was fortunate enough to do so myself.

Although I did not win a full international cap, I represented the under-21s but unfortunately it was hampered by injury.

The times that I did go away were always enjoyable and yes there are plenty of stories, but none that are printable.

There were some great characters around the England set-up at that time which made trips to France and China very interesting indeed.

Neil Ruddock, who is a good guy, was always lively and we had Kevin Pressman, Matt Le Tissier and other quality players.

I don't think any of us will forget the experience of playing in front of 110,000 fans at the Workers' Stadium in Beijing.

There were so many bikes outside it was unbelievable and you would have done a roaring trade in bells.

As you can imagine a few of the boys were not sure about the food.

I was brought up in East London so was used to all kinds of culinary delights.

It was very diverse. Growing up, I was used to Greek, Indian and Chinese.

The northern boys were not too happy with what was on offer though.

As soon as they stepped off the plane in Hong Kong they legged it straight to the nearest McDonalds.

I'm sure the current England players will enjoy the sights and sounds of the world and they should make the most of it.

I remember coming back from China with all kinds of pieces of Jade and I had a suit made in Hong Kong too.

I bought my dear grandad a beautiful clock from the market in Kowloon and when I look back they were amazing times. There was no doubt I was a scruffy, naughty little kid from East London, yet here I was experiencing a wonderful opportunity.

Travelling with the senior squad was special, but also daunting.

You have to remember there were players like Bryan Robson, Gary Lineker and Peter Shilton around at that time.

I had just broken into Watford's first team as a young kid and Terry Butcher was full of advice for me.

I could not ask enough questions.

We all went to Albania once and the senior team won 2-0. They were fantastic, old school players.

The banter flew around and although I did not hide in the corner, I used to watch a lot.

Believe me, I was fortunate and very respectful of the company I was in, none more so than Sir Bobby Robson.

He was a fantastic man and words cannot do him enough justice.

I have one of his shirts proudly displayed on the wall of my study at home.

My England regalia is all still at home although I gave my suit to my grandad.

He wore that down the working men's club.

I have shirts that are signed, but my children would not really understand their worth at the moment.

My little girl Darcy would probably want to scribble Spongebob Squarepants on them!

Thankfully they are framed and in safekeeping.

They are nice things to look back on and people like Jonjo Shelvey should not underestimate how special the chance to play for England is.

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