Time proves to be healer for Green
Chris Lakey Four years ago, Robert Green had the world at his feet. Norwich City may have spent a year in the Championship following their drop out of the Premier League, but Green was assured a big money move back to the top flight - and a plane ticket to Germany for the 2006 World Cup as part of Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad.
Four years ago, Robert Green had the world at his feet. Norwich City may have spent a year in the Championship following their drop out of the Premier League, but Green was assured a big money move back to the top flight - and a plane ticket to Germany for the 2006 World Cup as part of Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad.
But then came a moment he will never forget. It happened as he took a goal-kick in an England B international against Belarus at Reading's Madejski Stadium on May 25. As the ball rolled harmlessly to Vitaly Kutuzov, who scored the Belarus equaliser, Green lay in agony, having ruptured his groin just before he made contact.
Roll the clock forward four years and Green is in much better heart. He is one of the three goalkeepers Fabio Capello will be taking to South Africa - and this time the plane ticket will be waiting for him today when the England squad fly out.
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"Barring anything happening over the next 24 hours, touch wood, it should be fine," said the 30-year-old.
"That highlighted how precarious a position your life can be in terms of opportunities and things like that coming around. Now is something that highlights it and it could be the last World Cup, something like that, that highlights that you must take advantage and take everything on board and really enjoy it.
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"It's something I am looking forward to over the next few weeks."
Green won't know until possibly as late as June 11, the eve of England's World Cup opener against the United States, whether or not he is Capello's number one choice. He jokes that it's the manager's way of keeping the media interested, but knows it is just Capello's way of ensuring the competition between all three will produce one obvious candidate for the jersey.
Green doesn't mind.
"It's something we have really got to take as a positive," he said. "Whoever is going to be playing will have to be playing well to keep the other two guys out, so in that respect the other two guys will support the keeper in possession of the shirt.
"It's for the good of the country, there's no real selfish agendas in this. We want to do well for the country, that's the main thing."
Green is intelligent enough not to get drawn into controversy over his place in the pecking order, so when asked how he rates his chances, there's just a hint of a smile.
"One in three at the moment," he said. "You can't take any sort of stance on it, you just have to do your utmost, you can't take anything for granted. Hopefully I can just do as much as I can within training and hopefully impress enough to get an opportunity."
Green knows a repeat of England's recent history in major competitions could put the goalkeeper on the spot.
"It's 32 best teams in the world," he said. "It's going to be tight. Over recent tournaments for England it's been a pretty fine line, something which has been decided by penalties mostly, or a fluke goal, over recent World Cups and European Championships, so for us to go into it and think there are any clear favourites or anything like that would be pretty na�ve.
"But to go in full of confidence and be fully prepared is the main thing and by the time the games start that's basically what we are looking for and hopefully to hit the ground running and get on and do as much as we can.
"Enough has been said about waiting to win it, so as long as we go out there and give everything we can I'm sure we will be up there with the best of them."
It could be worth the wait.