John Stones has lifted the lid on his impromptu World Cup meeting with Glenn Hoddle, revealing the pair’s mutual appreciation.
Stones made a beeline for the former Tottenham midfielder, who is in Russia as a television pundit, in the aftermath of England’s knockout victory over Colombia and the pair shook hands before sharing a quick chat.
Former Three Lions manager Hoddle is still revered as one of the country’s most graceful players and has been a long-time advocate of Stones’ ability to play the ball from defence – a quality he sought in vain for much of his time in charge of the national side.
Stones was keen to finally make the older man’s acquaintance and opened up on the conversation which took place at Spartak Stadium.
“I wanted to go and speak to him. I’ve seen him on TV and I never had the chance to meet him, he’s always spoken very highly of me which I appreciate a lot,” he said.
“Obviously he was a top player as well. When I got over to him he said he wished he’d had the chance to play with me and Harry (Maguire) and we said likewise. It was a special moment on a personal level.
“He wished us all the best and wants us to go all the way. To hear that from someone like him kind of hits home where you are, what position you are in and what chance you have to affect things.”
Such moments are only available to those who made it to Russia, with those who missed Gareth Southgate’s cut watching on from home.
The likes of Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came closer than most, both effectively missing the boat due to fitness issues, while experienced players such as Ryan Bertrand, Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling and Joe Hart all failed to persuade Southgate.
Stones sympathises, having only made the standby list four years ago, and believes there will be a clamour to rejoin a squad which has played its way into the public’s heart in recent weeks.
“I never doubt that they want to be part of it or will cut corners. I know the boys on a personal level and I’m absolutely gutted that they didn’t have a chance to come,” he said.
“For everyone who doesn’t make an England team it hurts and it kind of gives you that motivation to go away and work even harder to try and get back in the England squad. I’ve been in that situation four years ago. I played in (friendlies in) Miami, then I had to fly home when the boys went off to the World Cup.
“I knew the hunger that I had then. Having to go home and watch the boys on the TV was difficult.”