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Jimmy's England call-up

PUBLISHED: 12:32 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:17 25 August 2010

LONDON COLNEY, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 02:  Jimmy Bullard of England attends a press conference held at London Colney on September 2, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

LONDON COLNEY, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 02: Jimmy Bullard of England attends a press conference held at London Colney on September 2, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

2008 Getty Images

A FOOTBALLER who rose from non-league obscurity and defied the odds by overcoming a horrific injury has been given a shot at England glory.

A FOOTBALLER who rose from non-league obscurity and defied the odds by overcoming a horrific injury has been given a shot at England glory.

Former Erith School pupil Jimmy Bullard, 29, was selected for the England squad by coach Fabio Capello to face two crucial World Cup qualifiers.

During his recovery from a knee injury two years ago, when it was smashed back the wrong way, the Premier League star revisited his former school in Avenue Road to present pupils with awards.

Erith School assistant head teacher John Sawyer said: "It's been absolute bedlam down here, Sky have been filming and wanting to know all about Jimmy's time at the school. He deserves his call-up after coming back from such a nasty injury through sheer determination.

"We will all be hoping he takes to the field in an England shirt - the pupils are already proud to have met him as a Premier League star, but this would be awesome."

After 15 gruelling months out of the game, Bullard said the prospect of lining up alongside international stars such as Frank Lampard and David Beckham

was "surreal".

While playing for Erith School in Year 12, Bullard scored in the Kent Cup final against rivals Bexleyheath at Thamesmead, taking the school to a 2-1 victory. He began his career at Corinthians and had a brief loan spell with Dartford before signing for Gravesend and Northfleet - now Ebbsfleet United.

Former Fleet manager Andy Ford, now with Welling United, said: "I can't remember a Kent lad going into the England squad before. With Fleet he was full of life. He would come off the pitch after 90 minutes fresher than anyone else. He is one of the fittest players I've

ever known.

"In the England team, I wouldn't be surprised to see him trying to nick the free kicks, he's that type of character, he will try and run the show."

Ford met with Bullard during his recovery from a shattered knee following two operations in America.

He added: "Jimmy is naturally gifted. While he was recovering he even won a fishing competition and is a scratch golf player - he's been known to beat pros."

At a press conference before England training, Bullard told reporters: "I remember it like it was yesterday, playing for Gravesend and Northfleet, earning £60 a week. It's been a long way round and to finally get a call-up by your country is great. It's a great feeling to be playing alongside the world's best.

"I'm not daunted or nervous. I'm most comfortable when I'm on the pitch playing football and I'll answer all the questions when I'm called upon."

Bullard joined West Ham United in 1999 for a £35,000 fee after being spotted by then manager Harry Redknapp. He arrived at Fulham via Peterborough United and Wigan Athletic, having played against Manchester United in the Carling Cup Final in Cardiff.

martin.sawden@archant.co.uk

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