Rock Solid

Steven Caulker, who has started all 10 of his side’s league games so far this campaign, is being heavily linked with Roy Hodgson’s England squad. Despite failing to cement his place in the international set-up after scoring on his debut, many expect the towering centre-half to be back in the fold ahead of the World Cup finals in Brazil.

When footballers score against their former clubs they sometimes find it difficult to hide their elation.

But when Cardiff centre-back Steven Caulker’s second-half header found the back of the net in the 1-0 victory over fierce rivals Swansea, he wasn’t the only one celebrating.

The England defender wrote his name into Cardiff City folklore when he scored the only goal in the first South Wales derby in the English Premier League.

But Caulker, who became Cardiff’s most expensive player when he joined from Spurs in a deal believed to be worth more than GBP8 million, actually made his English Premier League debut with Swansea.

The then Tottenham player moved to the Liberty Stadium on a season-long loan deal in 2011 following previous stints at Yeovil and Bristol City.

Caulker made 26 appearances for the Swans during his successful spell, proving to the footballing world he was more than capable of playing at the highest level. Caulker’s impressive performances for Swansea catapulted him into the public eye and landed him a place in Tottenham’s first team upon his return to the north London club.

The young defender’s stock was on the rise and before long people were beginning to link him with the England squad. On August 10, 2012, Caulker, who was a regular for the England under-21 team, was called up to the full national side for the first time.

Although he didn’t feature for the Three Lions on that occasion, it wasn’t long before he was given the chance to star on the international stage.

Three months after his first call-up, Caulker made his England debut in a friendly match with Sweden. He scored his first international goal before being taken off to rapturous applause in the 74th minute.

After making 18 English Premier League appearances for Spurs in the 2012/13 campaign, Caulker began to attract interest from other teams and it wasn’t long before promoted Cardiff made an offer for him.

In the knowledge that his first-team opportunities at White Hart Lane would be limited, Caulker left the club in favour of Cardiff, penning a four-year deal with the Bluebirds on July 31 2013. If any Cardiff fans were unhappy about their club’s decision to sign a former Swansea player, Caulker is sure to have won them round after scoring the goal which saw them win the first all-Welsh English Premier League fixture.

Caulker, who has started all 10 of his side’s league games so far this campaign, is being heavily linked with Roy Hodgson’s England squad once again. Despite failing to cement his place in the international set-up after scoring on his debut, many expect the towering centre-half to be back in the fold ahead of the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Now that several England defenders, such as Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill, are no longer automatic picks for their respective clubs, Caulker could muscle his way into Hodgson’s plans and stay there for the foreseeable future.

Caulker is still only 21 years of age but he has vast English Premier League experience. And it’s fair to say this young man has a bright future ahead of him.

* * * FACTFILE Name: Steven Caulker Position: Defender Club: Cardiff DOB: December 29, 1991

Moment to remember: Scoring on his England debut in a friendly game against Sweden in November 2012.

Moment to forget: Losing to South Korea on penalties while representing Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

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