CAPELLO: ‘Darren, I wanted to call you first. You’ve never been near the front in any of my plans and I felt I owed it to you make an exception just the once. You’re not in Darren, I’m taking Heskey. I had seriously considered taking you but one thing really changed my mind. Steve Bruce said you must go.’
CAPELLO: ‘Darren, Darren are you there? Darren?’
So, having got through the all important first call, Capello decided to go for the most difficult.
CAPELLO: ‘Theo, hi, how are you today?’
WALCOTT: ‘Why are you calling me? You shouldn’t be calling me. I’m playing golf, practising for the course near the World Cup hotel. Shouldn’t you be calling Shaun Wright-Phillips, I’ve got his number if you need it?’
CAPELLO: ‘How’s the golf going?’
WALCOTT: ‘Well, I don’t think they understand the game here to be honest. I’ve just got around the course in the quickest ever time and I came last. They keep saying something about the final ball being really important.’
CAPELLO: ‘Perhaps they have a point Theo. You’re not going to South Africa, keep practising the golf, it may improve your football. I’ll send you a postcard. Goodbye.’
What perhaps should have been Capello’s easiest call turned out to be one of the more tricky.
CAPELLO: ‘Leighton, you’re going to be left back.’
BAINES: ‘Great, wonderful, smashing. Best news I’ve ever heard. I’m overjoyed, this makes my career complete.’
CAPELLO: ‘Leighton, Leighton, let me finish. Left back in England. Hard luck son.’
Michael Dawson was very optimistic about getting in the squad, so Capello wanted to be careful. He needn’t have worried.
CAPELLO: ‘Michael, how’s things?’
DAWSON: ‘Ouch, Jesus, not now. Christ that hurts. How could this happen, I was meant to be going to South Africa.’
CAPELLO: ‘How do you know already?’
DAWSON: ‘I felt it straight away. I had my phone in my pocket and it was on vibrate, as soon as it went off it tweaked something in my quad. Boss I think I’m out of the World Cup.’
CAPELLO: ‘Oh, shame. I’ll take Upson instead then, enjoy your summer.’
Adam Johnson was always going to be one of the easier players to tell.
CAPELLO: ‘Adam, you’re not going to the World Cup this time.’
JOHNSON: ‘Boss, I’m a form player, I give you balance. I play on the left and I have a great left foot.’
CAPELLO: ‘Adam, all of these things are true. However as England manager I have to respect tradition and to play a left footed left winger out on the left would just not be English. Better luck next time.’
Scott Parker hadn’t taken part in the warm up games and was rightly panicking.
CAPELLO: ‘Scott, you know I am well known throughout the game for my superb planning and knowledge of every aspect of the game? That I watch my players closely on and off the pitch.’
CAPELLO: ‘Well Scott, I didn’t feel the need to play you in the recent games as I’ve been watching you around the training camp, especially in the canteen. You kept going ahead of Lampard and Gerrard in the salad queue and I need someone to hold at the back and let them go forward. Your repeated dashes to the cucumbers ahead of them just showed me it wouldn’t work. Have a nice summer.’
Tom Huddlestone had been given a chance by Capello after a decent season.
CAPELLO: ‘Tom, I like you as a player. I wanted to give you a chance, you have played very well this year for the Tottenham. ‘
HUDDLESTONE: ‘Thanks boss.’
CAPELLO: ‘So I brought you on against Mexico and that made me want to start you against Japan.’
CAPELLO: ‘You were rubbish, you’re not going.’