Peter Withe On His England Call Up
From The Peter Withe Autobiography:
On the Monday after the city-centre parade to celebrate Villa`s 1980/ 81 league championship, Ron Saunders called me into his office and asked me if I`d like to play in another game, so I agreed. I thought he was asking me to play in another testimonial game, but he then said, 'How do you fancy playing up front with Kevin Keegan?` I didn`t understand what he`d said at first so he repeated it, 'Yeah, playing up front with Kevin Keegan. I`ve had someone on the phone who wants you to play in this game.` There was a brief pause, '... and how do you fancy getting your first cap for England?` I was also pleased for our captain, Dennis Mortimer as he was called up to the squad as well. Then Ron explained the game was against Brazil at Wembley on the following Wednesday, so I had about eight days to prepare myself.
At that time, I had started to reflect on my past. Even when managers were telling me I`d never make it, I`d just accept their opinion - then try to prove them wrong! I always said to people I was like a good wine - I got better as I got older. However, I`ve always believed in my own ability, and I`m also a great believer in fate; meeting Derek Dougan in South Africa all those years ago was a matter of meeting the right person in the right place at the right time. If he hadn`t encouraged me I probably wouldn`t have come back to England to play for Wolves, and that`s where my long journey in football truly started.
Throughout my career it had been my ambition to play for my country, but I`d always felt that the opportunity had passed me by. However, I`m not the sort of person who gives up easily and my motto has always been, 'try, try and try again.` Despite my age at the time (I was 29) I still wanted to play for my country. Even had I been 39 years old, my determination to fulfil that ambition would have been just as great. I`d reached the age when England caps seemed nothing but a pipe dream, but I kept on dreaming anyway because that`s the kind of person I am. My dream came true.
So, on the 12 May 1981, only ten days after winning the championship with Villa, I stepped out in front of 75,000 fans at Wembley to make my debut for England.
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