Why Norwich keeper John Ruddy can rebuild the nation’s goodwill towards England
When the England squad was announced last week, there was a tangible sense of indifference as the the whole country shrugged their shoulders.
This is partly because there are a lot of familiar faces in the squad – a generation that have proved more muddy copper than golden – and also because the majority of the players encourage very little emotional attachment from the nation. Indeed, some demand resentment.
Without getting in to too much detail, huge swathes of the current England squad have been damaged and sullied by various criminal allegations and distasteful behaviour on and off the pitch. There are black marks against names that we do our best to forget while they wear the England shirt for 90 minutes.
Perhaps this is another reason why the push for new blood has become so fervent in recent years. It’s a chance to press refresh on the personalities involved in the England set-up and create a team untroubled by tabloid controversy and representing respect, loyalty and dedication. Sure, it’s a naive dream but it’s very damming that we have to accept that.
Hopefully it won’t always have to be this way and there are green shoots of optimism peeking through with the next influx of England players.
If like OTP you are in need of a player to really get behind this summer and in future years, you need not look too much further than Norwich keeper John Ruddy.
The 25-year-old has been a contender for best Premier League goalkeeper this season and we can expect to see him earn his first England cap against Norway this weekend.
As well as helping to keep Norwich in the top-tier for another year, Ruddy has used his on-pitch heroics for charitable deeds. Every time he saves a penalty or keeps a clean sheet his £200 bonus from Norwich goes to Help For Heroes, a cause he is personally linked to as several family members and friends have been involved in the armed forces.
Perhaps the future Mrs Ruddy was a little annoyed, but we also like that he offered to cancel his wedding in a bid to represent England in the upcoming friendly against Belgium. Happily, Roy Hodgson told him to concentrate on the wedding, although the planned stag do had to go by the wayside.
Ruddy has had a somewhat nomadic career before Norwich, plying his trade at Walsall, Rushden and Diamonds, Chester and Crewe to name a few of the teams he joined while on a series of loans from Everton. With that arduous and patient fight to get to the top table clearly comes a refreshing approach to the England setup.
Speaking about his role in the Euros, Ruddy said: “This is my first England call-up and it is to the European Championships, so if I’m going to start throwing toys out of the pram because I’m going to sit on the bench, it’s a bit naive of me and ridiculous, really.
“I’m going there to make sure I do myself justice in training, help Joe and Robert prepare in the right manner. I hope I’ll be around the squad for a few years to come and maybe get the chance then.”
That last line very much echoes the hopes of OTP too. The presence of individuals like Ruddy in the England team, who can combine great talent with a likeable character, is crucial to rebuilding the dilapidated goodwill towards the England national team.