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Barkley reveals England ambitions

Midfielder eyes bright future but determined to stay grounded.

Richard Heathcote

In a press conference in front of the world's media Ross Barkley has opened about his journey from Everton academy prospect to England international as well as his ambitions for the future.

Barkley was speaking at England's St George's Park training base where he is preparing for Saturday's European qualifier against Slovenia.

Should Barkley play it will be his first appearance in England shirt since their disastrous World Cup campaign having missed the first quarter of the season with a knee injury.

Despite England's struggles in Brazil Barkley justifiably escaped much of the blame given he was one of the squad's most inexperienced players. And as such he can rightly look back on the last year with pride as he has seen himself progress from Everton reserve to Premier League regular and now a full international.

When asked about his early memories of England he made me feel incredibly old by describing a match from when he was just seven:

"It’s got to be that David Beckham free-kick against Greece [in 2001].

"It was a great moment at the time and I was celebrating on the couch. At that moment I really wanted to play for England.

"[My ambition is ] to lift a trophy for England – to win something – because that’s what every player wants to do. It would be a dream come true if that happened."

Given they are both Evertonians it isn't surprising to see Barkley's name frequently mentioned in the same sentence as Wayne Rooney.

Barkley is following a trail blazed by Rooney a decade ago, though we all hope he doesn't follow Wayne's route all the way to Old Trafford.

Barkley admits he was spoken to Rooney about the pressures of being thrust into the spotlight and also reveals the legacy the Man United striker has back at Everton's Finch Farm training ground.

"He [Rooney] just said he coped with it easily, it just came naturally to him. That’s the way I look at it, I don’t want to get big-headed. I just take it as it comes.

"There are still loads of pictures of Wayne at the Everton Academy, and memorabilia of him when he was at the club.

"There are clips of him down in the video-room. When I was younger I saw Wayne breaking through at 16, scoring cracking goals. Then for him to go and make his England debut, while he was still at Everton, was good to see. He’s gone on and had a tremendous career and I’ve always looked up to him."

Such is Barkley's progress even Barcelona great Xavi is a fan, saying he and Raheem Sterling are good enough to play for the Catalan club.

When asked about the comments Barkley was understandably humble. He clearly remains anchored to the floor and aware of his roots, something that should stand him in good stead as his career continues to sky rocket.

"I’ve always had my feet on the ground and I’ve never forgotten where I come from.

It’s great be compared (by Xavi) to Paul Scholes and the Wayne Rooneys of this world. But I’m just focused on being myself and playing my own game and hopefully getting better."