Blackburn's Bentley: I agonised over U21 decision

Blackburn Rovers ace David Bentley admits he agonised over his decision to shun this summer's U21 European Championships with England.

"My agent Robert Segal said he spat out his tea when he heard me on there," Bentley told the Daily Mail when recalling how he defended himself on talkback radio. "We'd made a decision to avoid doing any interviews but I was being slaughtered. I didn't start listening to the show until friends and family started calling me. I was sitting at home with my girlfriend Kim and people were battering me. Saying I should never play for England again. I just had to make that call."

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As he sits in the sun outside The Avenue hotel, built at the gates of Blackburn's training ground, Bentley does his best to explain how he reached such a controversial decision.

"I didn't spend the week in a nightclub and then get to Thursday night and think, 'F*** it, I'm not going tomorrow'," he says. "I didn't just dismiss it. I was non-stop on the phone for two weeks prior to calling Stuart Pearce. I spoke to my boss, chairman, friends and family.

"If you come to my house you will not meet a more patriotic family. My dad was in the RAF. They said I might have to go. They gave me the other side. My dad was particularly vocal about it. So was my girlfriend's dad. He said I should go. But they also understood where I was coming from and they now respect my decision.

"I could have lied. I could have made up an injury or turned my phone off for a week. But I don't like to lie and I didn't want to put myself in a position where everyone would be able to see through me.

'Trouble is, it's a big brother state we now live in and you can't always be honest with people. You can't express an opinion.

"At the same time, everyone wants to have a go at each other. Look at the England team this week. Booed at Wembley. I was warming up for the Brazil game in June when I heard the fans booing Frank Lampard. It's unbelievable."

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