Zamora keen to grab England chance
Having played alongside the likes of John Terry and Ledley King as a kid, Bobby Zamora always felt he too was good enough to one day make the England team.
Zamora was on the verge of making the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ squad following a superb season for UEFA Europa League finalists Fulham, only to see his dreams dashed by an Achilles injury which needed surgery. The 29-year-old former Brighton, Tottenham and West Ham striker could finally end his long wait for full international honours tonight after being called up to Fabio Capello's much-changed squad for the friendly against Hungary at Wembley.
As a youngster, Zamora played for the Senrab club in east London, in a team which included the likes of Terry, King and Paul Konchesky, who have all since represented the senior side. "It is funny because I grew up playing with John Terry, Ledley King, Paul Konchesky, Jlloyd Samuel and a lot of other good players," said Zamora, who signed for Bristol Rovers as a trainee in August 1999.
"They have all gone on to play for England and, in my eyes, there was no major difference between us. I never reached the stage where I thought I was never going to make it. If you don't get picked, you don't get picked, and all you can do is to carry on with your normal game. I am not a deep thinker about these things, but now an opportunity's come along I want to grab it with both hands."
Zamora had the opportunity to represent Trinidad & Tobago, via his father, and even went as far as obtaining the relevant documentation ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. However, fate again dealt the striker a tough hand. "If things had worked out differently I could have played for them, but I had pretty much the same injuries - Achilles and back - which ruled me out," said Zamora, who earlier this week celebrated the birth of twin girls Gisele and Siena.
"At the time it looked like my only option if I wanted to play international football, but that door has closed and this one has opened. The Hungary match is a chance for me to impress and that is what I am going to try and do."
With the retirement of Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey, there would appear to be a vacancy in the England attack to supplement the tenacity of Wayne Rooney. West Ham forward Carlton Cole is another option for Capello, but Zamora - who netted 21 goals last season, nine of them in Europe - believes he can certainly add something to the frontline.
"I have been lucky enough to play alongside Teddy Sheringham at West Ham. Teddy wasn't the quickest, wasn't the strongest, but was intelligent and knew exactly what to do," he said. "I learned a lot from him at West Ham and he is probably one of the lads that I have looked up to."
Zamora admits the decision to opt for summer surgery to clear up his injury was the "toughest decision I have ever had to make." However, the pragmatic striker accepted: "But that's life, that's football. You pick up the knocks and if you can't play, you can't play.
"For the last month of the season I struggled when I should not really have played. I was having injections before the game which lasted for maybe half an hour, so possibly going to the World Cup and not being able to train doesn't really make sense. I would not be doing myself justice and I would not be doing the country justice. I would only let myself down and in that sense it was a no-brainer."
Zamora, though, feels he is worthy of full international recognition. "I am all right at pretty much most things, but I like having the ball up to me and bringing people into play," he said. "If we can get in and around the edge of the box, I like to set people up for shots. I have progressed over the last few years and that is all I can keep doing, trying to improve and hopefully the pinnacle is playing for England."