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England’s Barkley talks Beckham, Rooney and Euro 2016 hopes

Every England fan remembers the heart-stopping moment when the Three Lions, 14/1 with Coral to win Euro 2016, were a breath away from failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2002.

It’s the strongest memory that sticks in Everton youngster Ross Barkley’s mind the clearest. When asked about the the one that stuck out he said: “It’s got to be that David Beckham free-kick against Greece.

“It was a great moment at the time and I was celebrating on the couch. At that moment I really wanted to play for England.”

Barkley’s prime ambition?: “To lift a trophy for England, to win something, because that’s what every player wants to do. It would be a dream come true if that happened.”

It was reported recently that former Everton star Wayne Rooney was helping the younger England players, and on the subject Barkley continued: “Wayne’s been helpful to me and the other youngsters like Raheem [Sterling] and Luke Shaw.

“He’s always been there for a bit of guidance and to pass his experience on to us. He gives some good advice to us.”

When asked how Rooney dealt with the attention and media limelight, Barkley said: “He just said he coped with it easily, it just came naturally to him. That’s the way I look at it, I don’t want to get big-headed. I just take it as it comes.

“There are still loads of pictures of Wayne at the Everton Academy, and memorabilia of him when he was at the club.

“There are clips of him down in the video-room. When I was younger I saw Wayne breaking through at 16, scoring cracking goals. Then for him to go and make his England debut, while he was still at Everton, was good to see. He’s gone on and had a tremendous career and I’ve always looked up to him.”

Barkley featured in Brazil for England at the World Cup, and is looking forward to what the future with the national team holds: “I found the World Cup experience was really good for me.

“Ever since I’ve been young I’ve always wanted play in a World Cup and I went over to Brazil and played. Obviously we didn’t do the best. But for me and the other younger lads it was good for us to get a game. Hopefully in the future we will get plenty more World Cups under our belt.

“We’ve got a good bunch of young lads in the squad and we’ve all got to push each other. Hopefully, by the time the tournaments come around, we’ll have pushed on at club level and we’ll be better for it when we get to those tournaments. It’s really exciting because we’ve got a good mixture of young lads and the experienced lads like Bainesy (Leighton Baines), Wayne and Phil Jagielka.”

When Euro 2016 comes around, Barkley wants to be firmly embedded in the England squad and said: “That’s the aim. But at the moment I’ve just got to try and get into the team and I’ve got to do well with my club. I’ve got to do everything right off the field and hopefully everything else will take care of itself. I haven’t really felt any expectation. I just focus on getting better and doing things right on the pitch.”

There is no doubting Barkley’s talent, though the player characterises the kind of humility that took Beckham to the top of the game: “I’ve always had my feet on the ground and I’ve never forgotten where I come from. It’s great to be compared [by Xavi] to Paul Scholes and the Wayne Rooneys of this world. But I’m just focused on being myself and playing my own game and hopefully getting better.”