November 14, 2012. The date that Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruined Ryan Shawcross’s international career in the space of 16 minutes, the Stoke City defender has told The Telegraph.
Shawcross was handed his one and only England cap to date as a 74th-minute substitute in the famous 4-2 defeat to a Zlatan-inspired Sweden at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker scored all four goals, three of which came after Shawcross’s late introduction including a spectacular overhead kick from 30 yards out.
Shawcross has not been named in an England squad since and admits that Ibrahimovic’s exploits that night may have left an immovable stain on his international career.
“I’m the butt of the joke in my family, just because the 10 minutes I had in international football was ruined by one man,” he his quoted by The Telegraph as saying.
“They are consistently saying that Zlatan ruined my career! I had a chance and I don’t think many other defenders have stopped him.
“I was given 10 minutes to show what I could do and probably didn’t provide a good enough performance. I was against one of the best strikers in the world who was on a hot streak at the time and these things happen.”
Roy Hodgson handed out six debuts that night. As well as Shawcross, Steven Caulker, Leon Osman, Carl Jenkinson, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha made their Three Lions bows.
Of those six, only Sterling has gone on to win more than two caps for his country. The defenders that Zlatan scarred – Caulker, Jenkinson and Shawcross – have never played again.
One of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League, the Potters captain is probably more deserving than any of a second chance, which he is sure that he warrants.
But Shawcross has admitted that he does not anticipate getting a shot at England redemption while Hodgson, whose contract expires after Euro 2016, remains in charge.
“I’ve been playing well for the last three or four years and I don’t seem to be getting in so I can’t see it changing in the future unless the manager changes,” he says.
“It’s just the way football is, some managers like players that others don’t. At the moment it’s either that he doesn’t think I’m up to it or the lads he’s picking are better than me. That’s fine.
“Is that unfair? Yes, but it’s a ruthless game. You do find that the lads who move to the bigger clubs get more recognition. They play in Europe and there’s a lot more prestige around them.
“But my performances on the pitch for Stoke have been good enough to get in the England team and so far the call hasn’t come.”
Shawcross can rest a little easier knowing that he probably won’t be the only defender who wakes up in sweats in the middle of the night after reliving their Zlatan nightmare.
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