Gary Cahill always believed he would make England's World Cup squad
By Rory O'Callaghan
Last Updated: 28/05/18 11:08pm
Gary Cahill insists he never gave up hope of making the England squad for the World Cup, despite being overlooked by Gareth Southgate in March.
Cahill appeared destined to miss out on the upcoming tournament in Russia after being left out for the warm-up games against the Netherlands and Italy.
However, the 32-year-old fought his way back into international contention after finishing the season strongly with FA Cup winners Chelsea.
Asked if he believed his World Cup dream was over in March, Cahill said: "No I didn't. I felt like it had taken a knock.
"Missing out on the squad, especially the last one before you meet up, was kind of a big squad to miss out on.
"I realised that maybe it had taken a little knock and I really had to dig deep and try and perform between then and the end of the season to get myself back in the frame.
"That is the way it's worked out. Of course last time I was disappointed. There was a lot going at that moment in time and I missed the squad. But I never didn't have the belief that I could make the squad."
Cahill missed the initial call from Southgate to inform him he had made the cut for Russia and admits he feared the worst when he finally received the message from the England boss.
"I thought it could be bad news," said Cahill. "Normally, from my experience since I've been involved with England, you usually don't get the call. You just kind of receive the information that you're going to meet and what time etc.
"To get the call was a different way. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous when I was listening to it but I was delighted to be involved in another tournament for my country."
Cahill will travel to Russia as the most experienced player in the squad with 58 caps but the former Aston Villa and Bolton centre-back believes the current crop of players is better equipped to succeed than two years ago at Euro 2016 in France.
"It feels like there is more experience even though it is a younger group than two years ago," he said.
"Those sort of experiences, reaching the final of the Champions League, the City lads winning the title, things like that - there is more experience there.
"There is more experience in the bigger games. A lot of the English teams went reasonably far in the Champions League this year. All of these experiences add to being able to handle the pressure at the World Cup."
Not a single player in the Southgate's young squad has won a match at the World Cup but Cahill is upbeat about England's chances in Russia.
"I am going there in such a positive frame of mind with no nerves. I'm just excited to go over there. I am desperate for it to be a success and try and make the nation proud," he said.
"We want to come back after having a good experience in the tournament, which is something that I've missed."