After winning the Premier League title in dramatic fashion and going on to excel in Roy Hodgson’s – admittedly slightly underwhelming – England side at Euro 2012, Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott began the 2012/13 campaign on a high.
As England’s World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign begins with matches against Moldova and Ukraine, the 30-year-old tells ShortList he’s hungry to emulate the glory he’s enjoyed at City on the national stage.
Is the England team more united under Roy Hodgson?
Yeah, a lot was made of the short time we spent together as he’d only been in the job a few months, but the unity and the respect we have for Roy showed, and bodes well for the future.
After Euro 2012, do you have more confidence as an international player?
Yes, but I want to show the consistency that I did over the past season.
When you get together with the England squad, is there much ribbing between players from rival clubs?
Not really. I have been on the receiving end of some bad results when I was at Everton, and nobody said anything. We don’t have much club banter.
Where do you stand on the goal-line technology debate after that Ukraine ‘goal’ in Euro 2012?
That ‘goal’ against England was offside anyway. For the good of the game, it is important to discuss it and it can be the difference between winning the league or getting relegated. But the main people involved in football are the fans, so there needs to be a panel that discusses the issue with them: do they want to know for a fact that it was a goal or do they enjoy going to the pub and debating whether or not it was a goal?
Another hot topic in football is swearing on the pitch after the John Terry/Anton Ferdinand incident – is bad language an issue?
Obviously emotions run high, but I don’t think you can get rid of swearing. If it is that much of an issue, stop filming the players when there has been a bad challenge. We’re not robots, we’re humans, and we have the same emotions as ordinary men.
Is second place no longer good enough for City?
It would be a disappointment now. To win both the Champions League and the Premier League would be the ultimate achievement, but being the best in your domestic league remains the ambition for most players.
Is the plan to create an era of domination like Liverpool or Manchester United did?
Yes, it would be silly of me to say no. We know it won’t be that easy, but we feel it is our time now and we want to do something special.
When you were losing 2-1 to QPR in stoppage time on the final day of last season, did you believe you would win?
No, I didn’t. Then when we got one goal, I thought, “Yeah, we can win this.” After the game, I just sat in the shower in my football kit and tried to collect my thoughts and reflect on what had just happened.
Do you ever get tired of living in the spotlight?
You get attention as a footballer, but it’s normally positive. I like going out with team-mates because I’m not the guy all the fans want to see. If I’m out with Joe Hart, Sergio [Aguero], Carlos [Tevez] and David Silva the fans grab them instead, so I can just hide.
With Tevez and Mario Balotelli in the squad, City seemed unsettled at times last season. Are the team closer than people believe?
Yeah, a lot of us have children of similar ages who like to play together and we have wives and girlfriends who know each other, so we socialise a lot.
You are launching a fashion label with your ex-footballer brother, Aaron, and free agent player Jordan Stewart. Who are your most style-conscious team-mates?
Samir [Nasri] is the best-dressed at City. When I played for Wolves, George Ndah was immaculately dressed every day. It was like he was going to church. I’d say, “Where are you going today?” and he’d say, “I’m just going home.” There are no shockers at City, but there are some lazy dressers such as Micah Richards and Adam Johnson.
Finally, if Roberto Mancini could buy one player, who would you like it to be?
It would have to be Lionel Messi. He would be a great signing for City.
For more information on Lescott’s label, see Lescott-stewart.co.uk
(Image: All Star)