Terry Venables called me up for the Umbro tournament in 1995 – but snubbing England was the worst decision of my career

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I MADE the worst decision of my career shortly after one of the best moments – lifting the league title as captain of Blackburn.

I was included in boss Terry Venables’ England squad for an Umbro tournament in that country against Japan, Sweden and Brazil in June 1995.

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Tim Sherwood was 30 when he finally made his England debut, courtesy of Kevin Keegan in March 1999Credit: Getty
Kevin Keegan rewarded Tim Sherwood's Prem consistency with his Three Lions debut, a month after joining Spurs from Blackburn

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Kevin Keegan rewarded Tim Sherwood’s Prem consistency with his Three Lions debut, a month after joining Spurs from BlackburnCredit: Getty

It had been a tough and tricky campaign to get Rovers across the line to win the top-flight crown.

But I have no doubt that I would have played a role in this tournament.

However, in hindsight, I then did the worst thing possible.

I asked Blackburn No 2 Ray Harford to contact Terry to tell him I was mentally exhausted and could do the rest.

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Bear in mind that I was also due to get my first England cap in the infamous friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in February 1995.

Terry said he would face Paul Ince in the first half and I would play the second 45.

I couldn’t believe it when the game was abandoned due to crowd issues and thought my chance was over for England, mainly due to my own stupidity.

My advice to any player, regardless of age, is to take the opportunity to play for their country whenever you can because it may never happen again.

Tim Sherwood would always have regretted leaving England, but luckily he was given another chance after Kevin Keegan became boss

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Tim Sherwood would always have regretted leaving England, but luckily he was given another chance after Kevin Keegan became bossCredit: Getty
Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish and skipper Tim Sherwood rose to title glory in 1999

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Blackburn boss Kenny Dalglish and skipper Tim Sherwood rose to title glory in 1999Credit: Reuters

Fortunately, when Kevin Keegan took over in 1999, I was called up to his first team.

I will never forget the day before, we were at the Burnham Beeches Hotel when he told me that I would play against Poland.

I was maybe 30 but I felt like a teenager telling my family that this moment had finally come true and I was going to play for my country.

My only concern was if I had some sort of curse and could be hit by a bus on the way to Wembley!

It may have been 22 years ago, but I still get goosebumps thinking back to leaving old Wembley.

I think the fact that it was Kevin’s first game as a manager helped the mood.

He was the fans’ choice to be the new Three Lions boss after making Newcastle one of the most exciting teams in the world.

I was so proud to be part of Blackburn’s Premier League title success – and it was a great honor to be selected for the PFA Teams of the Year.

But from an individual point of view, nothing compares to putting on that England shirt.

We dominated the game and it looks crazy but I kept thinking to myself: ‘Is it always going to be this easy?’.

Walk to the other end to this crescendo of noise, then line up for the hymns.

It was an amazing feeling to know that my family was there to witness a day that I thought I would never see.

We dominated the game and it looks crazy but I kept thinking to myself: ‘Is it always going to be this easy?’.

The game felt very slow and I felt in complete control.

I could have scored and I felt humbled that commentators and media pundits said I gave an outstanding performance.

Paul Scholes deservedly left with the match ball and all the headlines and applause after his stunning hat-trick.

He scored some great goals — a sublime cross from David Beckham for his second.

I won two more caps but unfortunately both were out of position for the midfield role I played against the Poles.

I was asked to play at right-back against Sweden — I would gladly have played in goal if I had been told — I just wanted to keep playing.

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Then in my third and final cap against Hungary, I had a terrible back problem and had massages and all sorts of things before the game.

But I was still determined to play!

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