Euro 2012: spotlight on James Milner
- 06 June 2012 09:49
- Posted by Mark Booth
James Milner has started both of Roy Hodgson's warm-up friendlies which suggests that Euro 2012 could be his tournament to shine for England.
Speak to anyone about James Milner at Manchester City and the word “professional” is never far from coach, player or staff lips. James eats, sleeps and breathes football and his dedication could reap its rewards again this summer.
James adapted to life at international level seamlessly, probably owing to his extensive experience in the under-21s where he is the record appearance holder with 56 caps.
His final appearance for Stuart Pearce’s under-21 team was a 4-0 defeat against Germany in the European Championships – he’ll be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself this summer.
Competition for wing berths is fierce with England but Milner is seen as a Roy Hodgson type of player. Tactically disciplined, hard-working and with the maturity to fill in for colleagues out of position, he is a manager’s dream at a major tournament.
In the friendly against Norway he showcased this flexibility in reverting to a central midfield role alongside clubmate Gareth Barry and he was preferred to Theo Walcott on the right wing for the final pre-tournament friendly against Belgium.
Milner’s last tournament experience came in England’s disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign but James’ performances were one of few highlights. His cross for Jermaine Defoe’s goal against Slovenia briefly offered England hope of troubling the latter stages of the competition but it wasn’t to be.
As Roberto Mancini kept faith with the same personnel that had guided City back into the title race, Milner wasn’t seen too often towards the end of the 2011/12 season but he was a huge contributor to the blistering early season form that catapulted the club to the top of the table.
The performance at Old Trafford in the Blues’ 6-1 win particularly stands out where Milner was a constant threat to the United defence with his inventive passing and relentless running.
It was Milner too, who provided the inspired reverse pass to Zabaleta for the cross to tee up Sergio Aguero in City’s dramatic last gasp win over Villarreal in the Champions League.
Occasionally, a player can suffer for his versatility in international football but James has already accrued 26 caps at 26 years of age and he will be expected to add to them this summer.
Come along and enjoy Euro 2012 at City Square, the only outdoor venue in Manchester showing the England matches. We are kicking off with England’s opening match against France on June 11, with City Square open from 2:30pm.
There will be free giveaways from the CityStore and EA, parking is free and The Summerbee Bar, Blue Moon Café and Star Bar will all be open.
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for kids and are available now from the box office - advance purchase only.