Conor Coady has been a top performer with Wolves, and now England too. Speaking on the latest Super 6 podcast, the defender said: "I have been here for five or six years now and Wolves has given me my whole life. I owe everything to this football club."
Luckily for us at Super 6, Coady had taken, in his words, "a couple of days to reflect and come round" after defeat to West Brom, and was back to his lively, engaging best, becoming the latest Premier League star to join Laura Woods and Adebayo Akinfenwa behind the microphones of the Super 6 Podcast...
That England Debut
Is there any greater achievement than representing your country? Coady recently accomplished just that, and made his England debut in emphatic style, earning the man-of-the-match award in a goalless draw at Denmark.
His first goal for England came in a 3-0 friendly win over Wales at Wembley a few days later, but going back to his special debut, Coady remembers the emotions that came with it and what the night before was like.
"The feeling of walking out, you had the jacket on, you had the kit on, and you line up and sing the national anthem. I can't explain to you the feeling of it, it was that surreal and that incredible. It is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life," he said.
"I remember the night before - I didn't sleep a wink. I remember waking up the next morning, the manager asked if I had a good sleep and I was like 'Yes it was a great sleep'. I did not sleep a wink! I was up all night, I was messaging the missus. I just couldn't wait for it. The feeling of doing that was absolutely remarkable."
Coady was the first Wolves player to make his England debut for over 30 years, the last being the great Steve Bull. Coming from a team like Wolves, the centre-half did notice a step up on the training field, and struggled against a certain team-mate in particular.
"Phil Foden… you see him doing things now for Manchester City. We did this session and I could not get near him. He was fantastic, but the level there was absolutely incredible," Coady added, before admitting Foden is the best player he's come across in his fledgling international career.
"Foden is so young and has so much ahead of him. I think he is going to be absolutely incredible."
'I owe everything to Wolves'
Switching back to club football, Coady has been one of Wolves' most consistent performers since moving to Molineux. As such, he has won over Gareth Southgate and got many talking about where he could go next.
Particularly with Liverpool's centre-back issues this campaign, there have been murmurs regarding a return to Merseyside for Coady, where he spent his youth career. For Coady, these are simply rumours and nothing more, he's indebted to the role Wolves have played in his development into a Premier League captain.
"It does not affect me. I've grown to love [Wolves] since the day I came, I have mentioned this a few times before," Coady said.
"It [moving to Liverpool] is something that people just put two and two together and then suggest that it might happen. I couldn't be happier with where I am, I speak about being at this football club all the time and what this club has given to me.
"I have been here for five or six years now and this has given me my whole life. I owe everything to this football club. In terms of reading things that aren't true, people do not have to worry about it as I mention what this club has given to me, my family, my children.
"All my children know is me playing for Wolves. I have a five-year-old, a four-year-old, a three-year-old and a one-year-old and all they know is me at this football club, so they love this club as well. In terms of what Wolves have given me, I have an enormous amount of gratitude."
The influence of Nuno
Promotion, a Europa League finish and an FA Cup semi-final. Those are just some of the highlights since Nuno Espirito Santo took over the reins at Molineux. Coady recalls when the manager came in and how he was caught off-guard straight away.
"I remember when he came in and we went to Austria on a pre-season tour, and I ended up sitting next to him on the plane," Coady laughed. "I don't know how that happened!
"The manager was coming down the aisle and there was a spare seat next to me. You start panicking and I was thinking 'take a right take a right!' He ended up sitting next to me and spoke about his identity and what he wanted to bring to the club and his ideas.
"I always think back to that conversation - he did everything that he said he was going to do on that plane journey. He has done everything within that three years and I think the ideas, the changes he makes on the touchline, how he deals with the players, the team, is a massive part behind the success of Wolves."
Podcast host Laura Woods probed Coady on whether there was anything else left on Nuno's agenda after finishing in the European places and earning promotion from the Championship.
"He has never shared those plans that you speak of, he never shared anything with us at the start of our journey," Coady replied. "We were reading things in the press about Wolves doing this and that, and we thought this would be OK if we could do any of that!
"We don't really know, we just go about our business every single day to try and improve and take this football club higher and higher."
The lovely smelling Ruben Neves
Wolves are where they are today due to their promotion-winning campaign from the Championship in 2017/18, where they came up after securing 99 points. It was a season to savour for Coady, who touched on the league in general, now he's reached Premier League level.
"The season was incredible. I look back at it and I just have a big smile on my face. I watch the Championship now, I love it. I love everything about it, I love the games, I love the players, everything. Whenever there is a game on, I will watch it," Coady said.
Ruben Neves was the outside-of-the-area merchant during the promotion season and has taken that threat into the Premier League, but what were the impressions of him as he joined?
"Ruben loves talking about it," Coady adds. "The youngest Portuguese player to play in the Champions League at Porto - we all saw him come in and we were thinking 'is this for real?'. We all saw that Ruben Neves had signed for Wolves. We all wanted to see him. He looks a million dollars, I bet he smells lovely!
"He comes in - we had Diogo Jota, Willy Boly, and the manager had us playing in a certain way. The memories I have from it are incredible. The feeling we had going into games, was almost as if we were unbreakable, because of the momentum we had built from the first half of the season.
"We played Cardiff towards the end of the season and won 1-0. We conceded two penalties and John Ruddy saved one, with the next one hitting the bar. It was an incredible game, and these memories live with us forever. Ruben mentions it all the time, or a song will come on from what was played at the promotion party."
Turn the TV off!
As part of being a professional footballer, the lows come with the highs. Coady and Wolves travel to Chorley on Friday night, hoping to avoid an upset in the fourth round of the FA Cup Speaking of which, Wolves' defeat to Watford in the 2019 FA Cup semi-final still leaves a sour taste for Coady, who reveals a surprising statistic about the game.
"It is tough to talk you through - I have never watched the game back. If I ever saw the highlights on the TV I would always flick it over," he explains.
"That was the one game where I think back, and that was a massive opportunity missed. I look back and think about it. We were 2-0 up with about 15-20 minutes to go. We were cruising and doing so well. It was a complete performance for 65-70 minutes.
"We had done everything we had worked on in the week, we had done everything we had intended to do, and then I think Gerard Deulofeu came on - he is a top, top player. He changed the game and gave Watford a different dimension. It helped them, and we threw it away in the end. It was our own doing, but I never watch it back, as it is a really tough one to take.
"We were there, we had one foot where we wanted it, we were in the FA Cup final with this club. That was what we wanted to do all season. We had a fantastic run, beating Manchester United in the quarter-finals. The atmosphere at Molineux was electric and that night will stay with me forever. To get to where we did was brilliant, but to throw it away like we did was horrible."
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Round 29 Fixtures:
- West Ham vs Doncaster
- Sheffield United vs Plymouth
- Brighton vs Blackpool
- Barnsley vs Norwich
- Swansea vs Nottingham Forest
- Bournemouth vs Crawley