It’s a dream that every football fan, not to mention the players themselves, have when they are young. And for Rickie Lambert, being selected by England for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil at the age of 32 is a dream come true.
Having been dropped from Liverpool at the age of 15, the striker set his sights on making his mark at League 2 outfit Macclesfield Town three years later. Lambert’s journey, however, started before his first professional contract - in a beetroot factory, putting lids on jars.
In this unique rags-to-riches fairytale, 13 years later Lambert will represent his country at the World Cup in Brazil - the backyard of the world’s most successful team to date with five titles to their name.
After spells with Macclesfield Town, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers intertwining between the Football League’s lower two tiers, Lambert joined then League 1 side Southampton in 2009 and scored 30 league goals in his debut campaign.
Three seasons and two promotions later, Southampton’s number 7 became a Premier League player. Having scored 15 times, finishing joint-highest English goalscorer and keeping his impeccable 100% penalty record for the Saints against the best goalkeepers in England, he made his England debut against Scotland in 2013.
There cannot be many better ways to make your debut at Wembley than by coming on as a substitute and scoring the winning goal with your first touch of the ball.
Now, 10 months to the day that England coach Roy Hodgson awarded Lambert his debut, the Three Lions will take to the pitch against Italy in Manaus. It’s unclear how often he will feature in Hodgson’s plans during the tournament, but one thing is for certain: no one deserves his place more than Rickie Lambert - the beetroot kid who never stopped believing.