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Paddy Davitt, EDP Sports Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
As hangover cures go, John Ruddy’s England selection proved a belter.
"I thought out of all the keepers available, it wouldn’t really happen. The way I played at the start of the season, I felt if it was going to happen it migh=t have been the re-arranged friendly against Holland, but that wasn’t to be and from then on it was about making sure Norwich remained in the Premier League and I continued to develop as a keeper."
Norwich’s players’ player-of-the-year revealed he was in a delicate frame of mind when Ray Clemence rang the Ruddy residence on the eve of the official squad announcement for this summer’s European Championships.
“We’d gone out with the other players and their partners the night before so I was a bit worse for wear on the Sunday,” he said. “I was recovering and it took a while to sink in when I got the call from Ray. Val, the secretary at the club, had also phoned me just to give me a heads up so I didn’t have time to think if it was a prank. It still hasn’t sunk in.
“The first inkling I had was this past weekend when I was in the car listening to the radio and they were talking about the brochures the England squad are meant to be getting about behaviour and dress codes and so on and I thought, ‘I’ll be getting one of those,’ and it sort of hit me and that was when I realised for the first time I am in the England squad. It probably won’t sink in properly until we meet up.
“I thought out of all the keepers available, it wouldn’t really happen. The way I played at the start of the season, I felt if it was going to happen it might have been the re-arranged friendly against Holland, but that wasn’t to be and from then on it was about making sure Norwich remained in the Premier League and I continued to develop as a keeper.”
Ruddy’s hugely-impressive Norwich season finally ends this evening with a watching brief for Adam Drury’s Celtic testimonial before meeting up with his new national team-mates on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s Norway friendly in Oslo.
The 25-year-old’s pending marriage to fiancée Laura on the same date as England’s Wembley farewell against Belgium proved an intractable problem for all of an hour, before Roy Hodgson’s matrimonial blessing.
“She was there with me when I got the call,” he said. “The conversation kind of went, ‘I’m in the England squad, right.’ She said, ‘I’m so happy for you,’ then I said, ‘But we’ve got to cancel the wedding.’ So that kind of put a dampener on things. Ray rang back about an hour later and said he had spoken to Roy Hodgson and he doesn’t want you to postpone it, so the wedding was back on. It was a very surreal hour or so. I was grateful to Roy and the FA for letting my big day go ahead. We’d been planning it for over a year and I can’t wait for it.
“The Belgium game is the last friendly for him to really get his squad set out and his starting XI, so with me going there as a third choice keeper I am not going to realistically feature – unless there are injuries and there was a need for me to be there. I’m just ever so grateful.
“England are releasing me now on the Thursday (May 31) evening because we have the wedding rehearsal on that evening. We are a bit tight for time. I’m off on the Friday to make sure various bits and pieces are sorted out, married Saturday and then we have got Sunday and Monday off, I think, so I have a couple of days to enjoy it and let it sink in.”
Ruddy’s balancing act could not stretch to a planned stag visit to Portugal or a honeymoon in New York and Barbados.
“The stag was cancelled. It was meant to be last week and we were going to go for a couple rounds of golf,” he said. “There were eight going and I think three of them still went. They had t-shirts made up for me and they said they still wore them – a big picture of me with the words ‘John’s stag do’ They said they got ripped because they were the smallest stag do ever and there was no stag.
“As for the honeymoon I have to see if I can re-arrange it and let them know when I can have the time off. It depends how far we go in the tournament how much time I get off afterwards. I think if I cancel it I get 10pc back so I don’t really want to do that. My Mum might be getting a nice holiday.”
The City number one did enjoy a break in Dubai with his young family last week that brought a chance meeting with his new England captain.
“Steven Gerrard was there and Leighton (Baines), who I was with at Everton, and Ashley Young was out there,” he said. “Steven Gerrard was nice enough to come up to me and congratulate me for getting into the squad. I was setting up the sunbed and didn’t see him to be honest. He was behind me, but he said congratulations and shook my hand and that was nice.
“I was very grateful for that and really can’t wait to get started. They all seem really nice guys. You’ve got four Man City players coming off the back of a Premier League win and four Chelsea players coming off the back of a Champions League win so the squad should be on a high – that bodes well for the performances.”