Jermain Defoe is looking to make the England squad for the 2018 World Cup after getting recalled to the England squad.
Defoe last played for England in 2013, but has been named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the matches against Germany and Lithuania.
The 34-year-old is now targeting a world cup return with England, after missing out on the 2014 world cup and the Euros.
He said: “There were times where I did think ‘maybe I’m not going to get in’, and I came out and said it, but it didn’t stop me getting my head down, working hard and hoping one day I’d get an opportunity to represent my country again.
“I was getting a lot of stick from the lads at the training ground saying ‘why have you still got the England flag on your boots?’ I was just hoping one day I’d get an opportunity and it’s come, so I’m delighted.
“I’ve always known how important it is to play for England from day one. When you’ve had that experience of going to major tournaments, it’s something that you just crave.
“Just going to a major tournament, travelling, getting to the hotels, playing the games – it’s something you’ve always wanted to do from being a kid, growing up watching the great players over the years. Playing in the major tournaments, going out and emulating the players you’ve seen on TV.
“Being lucky enough to have experienced it, you just want it more and more. So for me, if I do get an opportunity to go to another major tournament, it’d be a dream.”
Defoe was overlooked for the 2014 World Cup having joined Major League Soccer side Toronto, and he knows his chances of going to Russia next year will diminish if Sunderland are no longer in the Premier League.
“You have to be realistic,” he said. “To get into any squad is on merit and you’ve got to be playing at a level, it’s as simple as that.
“When I went to Toronto I missed out. When I got the phone call it was hard news to accept, but at the same time you have to be realistic and the boys I was competing against were playing in the Premier League and Europe.
“I’d say I probably need to be playing in the Premier League, but we’ll see what happens.”