MORE LAMBERTS ARE OUT THERE!
Ricketts: Others just need a chance
WOLVES skipper Sam Ricketts says Rickie Lambert’s fairytale England debut struck a blow for every unsung hero in the Football League – and beyond.
Lambert had never played above League One until two years ago, turning out for the likes of Macclesfield, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers.
But, after bagging 15 Premier League goals for Southampton last term, the 31-year-old was called up by England and on Wednesday scored the winner against Scotland with his very first touch in international football.
Like Lambert, Ricketts started at the bottom, playing for AFC Telford in the Conference before working his way up to the Premier League. And he is convinced that more players could do the same given half a chance.
“You see Rickie scoring for England and everybody says it is Roy of the Rovers stuff,” says Ricketts, also 31.
“It is too – a fantastic story because it’s so rare. But maybe it shouldn’t be because there are plenty of players like Rickie who just need a chance.
“Look at Swansea, who went right through the divisions. Someone like Leon Britton gets plaudits right across Europe for the way he sits in front of the back four and dictates play. But he was doing that just as well in League Two a few years ago.
“The manager here, Kenny Jackett, always says that every player has got Championship performances in him. What matters is how often they produce them, and it’s the same with the Premier League.
“It comes down to a number of factors. Confidence, consistency, how much a player really wants it – is he willing to make the sacrifices to play at the top?
“There’s also a huge amount of luck involved and I feel hugely fortunate to have gone through all five leagues in six years. But if I can do that, so can anyone.”
Talking of unsung heroes, Ricketts also feels Wolves boss Kenny Jackett, below, should be plying his trade far higher than League One.
“Kenny gave me my big chance when he took me to Swansea from Telford,” says Ricketts, who also played for Hull and Bolton before joining Wolves in the summer.
“I’ve kept in contact with him ever since and I’ve always wanted to work with him again. I just love the way he carries himself and speaks so honestly.
“It bugs me that in the world we live in, you can get a long way just by talking the talk. But people who just knuckle down and do a great job – like Kenny – too often get overlooked.
“He’s was fantastic at Millwall. Just to keep them up on the budget he’s had would have been an annual overachievement. But the fact he’s had them up in the top six and around mid-table just shows you what a great job he’s done.
“I think he’s been very unfortunate not be poached by a bigger club, but their loss is definitely our gain. Wolves have done a great bit of business getting him in.”
It’s been a tough few seasons for the Molineux outfit, with successive relegations turning fans against players still earning Premier League cash. But after a summer clear out – and last weekend’s 4-0 win over Gillingham – Ricketts believes the crowd are back on side.
“It’s a new manager and a new side,” he adds. “Only two of the players who played in the final game of last season started the first one of this, so that tells you what’s been happening over the summer.
“Of the 24-man squad, I think 16 have come through the academy. The fans see a young, local side representing them every week, trying their hardest. I think that’s given the fans some optimism for the first time in a while.”
GOLDEN TOUCH: Rickie Lambert scores fro Englamnd against Scotland WORKED HIS WAY UP: Sam Ricketts on the ball for Wolves