Everton skipper Neville: I'll never turn down England

Everton captain Phil Neville says there was no way he could retire from international football.

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"I'm still ambitious about playing for England," he said. "These next few months will determine whether or not we go to the European Championship finals, and that should be incentive enough for anyone to want to be involved.

"I can probably understand where most of the lads are coming from over retiring. Paul Scholes, for instance, has been vindicated, because he looked so fresh for United last season.

"But, for me, the thought of winning a major tournament in an England shirt means too much. A winner's medal for my country, and the rewards that go with it, are too important.

"I will keep fighting for that goal for the rest of my career. Just look at the boys of '66 and how they are remembered all these years later. They are heroes, and all the lads in the reckoning for an England place at the moment can be the same. "I just love everything about the England set-up, from seeing myself among the names picked to meeting up with the rest of the lads and going into the game itself.

"I'd say it even gives me an extra sparkle when I return to training at Everton."

There was an implied criticism of then head coach Sven Goran Eriksson's methods when Neville said: 'That was the one time I thought about packing in, the one time I wasn't enjoying being involved with England.

"It had been building up for a bit and for a couple of weeks I seriously contemplated leaving it all behind and concentrating on my club career. The reasons were the same as some of the others have come out with. I was going away for days on end without really getting a look-in. In fact, I knew from the outset I wasn't going to get a look-in.

"I was training every day, knowing there would be nothing at the end of it, and that can be disheartening. But just thinking about it over a week or two, and realising what I would be giving up, gave me the kick up the backside I needed."

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