Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found it tough watching England’s World Cup opener, especially as the injured midfielder believes Gareth Southgate’s men boast the talent to mount a serious challenge in Russia.
Four years on from a knee issue denying him an appearance in Brazil, the 24-year-old’s hopes of performing on the global stage were again cruelly scotched.
A knee ligament injury ended Oxlade-Chamberlain’s season in April, ruling him out of Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final and England’s tilt at World Cup glory.
“I’ve been watching the World Cup – following it and supporting the boys every inch of the way,” he told talkSPORT.
“I must admit the first game was tough to watch, the Tunisia game. It’s obviously a moment when you realise what a great opportunity you’re missing. But these things happen in life and I am keeping positive.
“The Champions League final as well, that was obviously devastating to miss. The final whistle in that game, when we obviously didn’t win, sort of all this emotion rushing over me and something I’ve never really experienced before.
“I was in tears on the pitch and I am not a crier at all, but I think I was sort of clinging on to that for the lads and for Liverpool, for the club. I know how much everyone wanted it, and myself as well.
“When you get injured en route to something special, you’d hope it ends out in the right way so it was all kind of worthwhile.
“Seeing the boys putting in the performances leading up to that and even in the final, I was so proud of them all and it’s just a shame we couldn’t get that one over the line.
“But I am positive and moving forward, so I am all good thank you.”
That positivity is matched when it comes to England’s chances in Russia, where progress has been sealed with a match to spare.
Thursday’s match against Belgium will decide who finishes top of Group G, with the Three Lions having secured a last-gasp 2-1 win against Tunisia before humiliating Panama 6-1.
“I definitely think we have the talent, there’s no doubting that,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said of England’s World Cup chances. “A lot of it comes down to who turns up on the day.
“I know the team have been working massively on being resilient and hard to beat, sticking together until the end – so far the boys have shown that really well.
“We’ve given ourselves the best chance and that’s all we can do.”
England’s hopes are also boosted further by talisman Harry Kane, whose five goals put him atop of the Golden Boot standings.
“We all know how capable he is of scoring, but to take it to the World Cup is what all top goalscorers try to do,” Oxlade-Chamberlain added.
“He’s on a great run of form at the moment and long may that continue in this tournament.
“He’s been brilliant leading the boys, not just vocally, but with his performances, which is massive.”