Steven Caulker continued his football development by making his England debut in the international friendly against Sweden in Stockholm. After England fell behind early in the game they recovered with two goals in three minutes in the first half as Caulker scored his first England goal from a free-kick by Steven Gerrard.
Caulker has had a busy season having impressed for Team GB in the Olympic tournament. He was then called in to the England squad which travelled to Switzerland in August for the friendly against Italy. Having signed a new 4-year contract with Tottenham which will keep him at the club until 2116, Caulker then sat out the opening League matches for Spurs. The injuries at full back to Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Naughton, however, provided him with the opportunity for his Premier League debut for Tottenham. When Jan Vertonghen moved from central defence to left back, Caulker made his first Spurs appearance in the League as a half-time substitute against Queen’s Park Rangers. Since then he has been played in every match except the recent Europa League game at home to Maribor. He scored his second Tottenham goal last weekend against Manchester City heading in Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick in the first half to put Spurs ahead. Caulker has made 12 appearances for Spurs in all competitions this season.
Product of Tottenham Academy
Caulker is a product of the Tottenham Academy and a player in whom many have had high expectations for some time. He has made excellent progress in the past three seasons while on loan in the lower Leagues with Yeovil Town and Bristol City, winning awards at both clubs, showing how much they appreciated his talent and endeavour on their behalf. He made his first Spurs’ appearance in a Carling Cup tie against Arsenal at White Hart Lane in 2010. Last season, he stepped up from Championship football to play for with Swansea City in the Premier League where he benefited from the experience of being a regular member of the team in central defence, receiving good reviews throughout the season.
Caulker played for seventy five minutes in an impressive debut for England. He started nervously, facing the experienced Zlatan Ibrahimovic but recovered and became more comfortable as the game progressed. In an England team with many changes, Caulker partnered Gary Cahill in central defence. Sweden took the lead after fifteen minutes when they broke quickly with the England defence stretched. Caulker got a block on Ibrahimovic’s initial shot but was unfortunate when the Swede managed to poke the rebound home. Gradually, England came into the game and after equalising Caulker put them ahead after 38 minutes. Gerrard took a free-kick from deep on the right and Caulker got in between two defenders to volley in from a close range. In the second half play was even but two minutes after Caulker was substituted, Ibrahimovic scored his second goal. He added a further two goals as Sweden won 4 – 2. In the fifteen minutes that Caulker didn’t play, Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick.
Supporters love to see young players getting an opportunity in the first team, especially ones who have progressed through the club’s Academy and junior teams. Caulker has again stepped up to meet the challenges presented to him at White Hart Lane under Andre Villas-Boas’ guidance. He has done exceptionally well in the Spurs team this year and thoroughly deserved his call up to the England team as another part of his footballing education. It is appropriate that in the season after Ledley King announced his retirement due to injury, that a another product of the Academy has stepped in to central defence to replace him. Caulker, if he continues his progress will have many years in the Tottenham team and for England.