Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bullard's Spirit Wins Shock Call from Fabio; Bully for You: Fulham Midfielder Jimmy Bullard Is Celebrating His Call-Up to the England Squad

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Bullard's Spirit Wins Shock Call from Fabio; Bully for You: Fulham Midfielder Jimmy Bullard Is Celebrating His Call-Up to the England Squad

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Hodgson

FULHAM'S Jimmy Bullard today said he was "absolutely over the moon" after being handed a shock England World Cup call-up as coach Fabio Capello looks to begin the road to South Africa by beating Andorra and Croatia.

The 29-year-old has barely earned a mention as a potential candidate for Capello's squad, even after the loss of Steven Gerrard, who joined Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick on the injured list.

But Bullard has found favour after an excellent start to the season, following his influential role in keeping the Cottagers up last term.

Capello is presumably banking on Bullard's age helping him overcome any nerves at his first call-up and the Londoner's chirpy character should help in the England dressing room.

It is also a reward for Bullard's decision not to chase a place in the Germany squad by taking advantage of his grandmother's birthplace.

Having been out of the game for 15 months following cruciate ligament surgery in September 2006, it is a testament to Bullard's strength of character that he not only returned to action but produced performances good enough to attract Capello's attention.

However, anyone who has seen Bullard rise from obscurity at Gravesend & Northfleet would have no doubt about his determination and dedication, even if his major claim to fame in his career so far is the role he played in Wigan's rise from League One to the Premier League.

After being told he had been selected by Capello, Bullard said: "I'm absolutely over the moon. I'm so excited but I just want to go and meet up with the guys now and do whatever the manager asks of me." Bullard's joy will contrast sharply with the dejection of Michael Owen, who has been left out despite making his first full appearance of the season for Newcastle at Arsenal.

With Capello in attendance at the Emirates Stadium, it was felt Owen would be part of the Italian's 23- man squad, particularly as he has scored matchwinners against Bolton and Coventry in the past week. …

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