Men's Team

Corrigan on England's City high fives - and how spirit is key to a successful World Cup

Club legend Joe Corrigan has given his own high fives to the quintet of City players who will be striving to help England try to achieve World Cup finals glory in Qatar.

City have 16 players in total representing their countries at the 2022 showpiece with five forming a key component of Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.

Kyle Walker, Phil Foden, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish will all be looking to play their own part in helping England secure football’s greatest international prize over the next few weeks.

It’s the highest Club representation in the Three Lions’ 26-strong group who have travelled out to the Middle East with England starting their Group B campaign against Iran at 1pm (UK) on Monday afternoon.

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And for City legend Corrigan – who is the Club’s second highest all-time appearance maker and who was part of England’s World Cup squad at the 1982 tournament in Spain - it’s a source of huge pride that so many of our players will be representing the Three Lions.

“It’s just brilliant that five English lads from City are out there in Qatar playing for their country and all coming from the Blue side of the city,” said big Joe, who celebrated his 74th birthday last Friday.

“I know they will all go out there and shine for England. I’m really excited to see how Phil Foden goes and it’s great to see Kyle Walker back too after his injury.

ACTION MAN: Phil Foden could be a key figure for England in Qatar
ACTION MAN: Phil Foden could be a key figure for England in Qatar

“To represent your country is the pinnacle of a professional’s career and it’s wonderful to see them all in the squad.

“I’m really proud of all the lads and I’m sure that they will go out and give their all for their country.

“I also think that the England boys can take confidence from the last two tournaments at Russia in the 2018 World Cup and the Euros here last year.

“I know they haven’t had the best results in the last few matches, but they have to put that behind them and look at the positives of what they have done in the past two big championships.

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“Let’s not forget, we reached the semi-finals out in Russia and final of the Euros last year.

“Hopefully we can take that and move it forward.

“Let’s just hope that it’s a great World Cup and event.”

JET SETTER: Joe Corrigan (second right) prepares to fly off with England to the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain
JET SETTER: Joe Corrigan (second right) prepares to fly off with England to the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain

Though it’s now 40 years since Corrigan jetted out to Spain as part of Ron Greenwood’s squad, he believes there are encouraging echoes with today in the way that the spirit and sense of unity engendered by a close-knit group of players can inspire everyone.

He says the England players of 1982 were united by a special camaraderie and brotherly bond. And he sees parallels with the way Southgate has instilled a similar sense of harmony and togetherness in the current Three Lions set-up.

“I was very fortunate to be involved with the England squad in 1982,” Corrigan recalled.

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“And the great thing about it is we all got on with each other really, really well.

“For me, that is what the squad system is all about and I think you see it today too.

“It makes you want to achieve special things as you know that if you don’t do it a top-class player is waiting behind to take your place.

“For me personally, to be selected in a group of goalkeepers along with Ray Clemence and Peter Shilton spoke for itself.

“The big thing was that we all got on really well. We trained well together, and we encouraged each other on, no matter who was playing.

HANDY MEN: Joe relaxes during a training session alongside the late, great Ray Clemence
HANDY MEN: Joe relaxes during a training session alongside the late, great Ray Clemence

“Peter Shilton was the number one at the time, so while Ray and I were disappointed not to play, we were there to support Peter and to be ready to play if needed.

“So, you were always kept on your toes and looked forward to doing well.

“Everyone knew there were great players waiting in the wings. But there was no jealousy.

“One of the big values of the manager – as with Gareth - is to put a squad together who will gel and get on with each other.

“When you go away for a long time – and of course you don’t know how long you will be away for - it is a big strain mentally to try and do your best every day.

“It was such a great squad in 1982 and I often sit back and talk to friends of mine and look at the picture of the and think how much would those players be worth in today’s market?

RETURN TICKET: Kalvin Phillips recovered from injury to take his place in England's squad
RETURN TICKET: Kalvin Phillips recovered from injury to take his place in England's squad

“I know you can’t go back but you look at the likes of Kevin Keegan, Paul Mariner, Trevor Brooking, Bryan Robson, Mick Mills.. it’s amazing really.

“FIFA decided to change the format of the World Cup that year and instead of being a league stage and then a knockout stage they had two league stages.

“We didn’t lose any of our games, yet we still failed to qualify after drawing 0-0 with Spain and Germany in the second league stage.

“However, looking back, it was a fantastic experience.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m sure it will be just the same for these lads out in Qatar.”

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