Agonising wait for England call - Sue Smith on football

The next few days are going to be horrible for people like Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips, waiting to find out if he is in Tuesday’s England squad for the European Championships. His club-mate, Patrick Bamford, is uncapped but may be hoping to make it, too.

I know what it is like to be picked for a European Championships and I also know what it is like to be left out of one when I was expecting to go. Neither is very pleasant.

People did not really believe me when I told them but when I was a “cert” for every England game I still worried. When it means so much to you, surely everyone has that little doubt.

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In the week before every England squad announcement I would be worrying. People would say, ‘Why are you thinking like that?’ but it meant so much.

Hopeful: Leeds United's Patrick Bamford.

You wondered if they thought someone was playing better or they were not happy with my form, or you might think about something you did not do well in the last camp.

Years ago we used to get a letter, than later an email or a phone call, to say you had been selected for each squad and you would know when it was due and be constantly waiting for it.

When you qualify for a major tournament you are all in it together but that group gets whittled down and in all of the build-up games, it is all people are talking about. I used to write my squad out with a room-mate.

In 2005, England had a home European Championships and I had been struggling with plantar fasciitis. I was not really playing my best football, just average, but I still thought I would get in because I had been involved in every game, every camp.

England calling?: Kalvin Phillips.

The manager, Hope Powell, phoned and straight away I got that sick feeling. She asked if there was anything I wanted to ask but all I heard was I was not going to the tournament.

I said, ‘No, thank you,’ and put the phone down. I could not speak to her. I was angry with her for not picking me and upset I had let myself and friends and family who bought tickets down.

My mum and dad were downstairs but I could not go down and tell them because I would start crying.

Then I wanted to know who had got in but I did not know if I should message the players I thought might or might not have. My room-mate, Kristy Moore, messaged me and told me she did not get in either so we phoned each other and let it all out.

Bad news: From Hope Powell.

It made me feel better to be in the same situation as her. There will be some players who are the only ones at their clubs who have that disappointment.

I took me a few days to get my head around it because I did not really know how I felt.

It made me ask why I played football when it made me feel like that but it is because you love it and have so many great experiences.

My plan was to go away and not watch it but I got asked to cover it for the BBC. It was hard not to feel bitter. You want to criticise players selected ahead of you but have to be professional plus my really good friend Rachel Yankey was in my position.

Replacement: Rachel Yankey.

England had a really poor tournament. How do you feel? Part of you thinks, ‘If she had picked me...’ It is horrible you even think like that.

What then got me was they had a training camp a month later and I was selected but I used it as motivation. I went to Euro 2009 and we got to the final. Rachel was left out.

When you get picked, you do not know who to ring either. You want to know if your mates did but you do not want to sound like you are gloating.

I waited a bit and texted people to tell them I knew how they were feeling and to come back stronger. You worry it might be patronising.

You have to try and deal it with your own way. Sometimes you think you know the right way to respond but surprise yourself by reacting completely differently.

I am not someone who will cry at just anything but football can really get me. If I went into a meeting and was told I had been left out of a really big game I would try my best not to get emotional, then leave and want to either punch a wall – which I would never do – or cry.

It is your life. You think of the days you have trained to your limit in the freezing cold because you want to go to a tournament and be the best player. I would look back at missing my brother’s wedding or best friend’s 30th birthday but you do it because football means so much.

But I definitely do not miss that horrible wait for the call.