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Published 11 June 2021 2 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Stones keen to go one further

Written by:

Tom Dean

Three Lions man on using heartbreak of 2018 as an advantage and his return to form
A brief look at the career of John Stones reveals a fully-stocked trophy cabinet and a player at the top of his game, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the England defender. 

The Barnsley boy went from strength to strength after his performances for Everton earned him an international debut in 2014 followed by a £50mi move to Manchester City a couple of years later.

Trophies soon began to follow as the 27 year old began to establish himself as one of the best defenders in the country, just in time to help England to the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. 

But subsequent injuries and a dip in form saw him lose his place for both club and country. Hard work and determination was the only remedy and following a third title-winning season with City, Stones is back to his best. 

“It’s the same as anyone in any profession,” he told Lions’ Den connected by EE host Josh Denzel. 

“You have your bad days and it hurts because you care. I had to look at myself and realise what I could do to improve and I said it the other day about the journey to get to where you are but it’s never plain sailing.

“As a kid I was too small. I had to fight through a lot of things and I knew I’d done it in the past so why couldn’t I do it now. 
11 Jun 2021 39:02

Lions' Den: Episode 4

John Stones is our latest guest in the Lions' Den

“Generally you’ve just got to be honest with yourself. I went away and worked in the gym and worked hard. You doubt yourself and when things aren’t going well you can get tunnel vision and it’s hard to see a way out. 

“I’d done all the hard work to make sure I was fit and strong enough. So when I got my opportunity, I could take it. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it and then everyone else starts to realise.”

Stones scored twice, his only international goals to date, in England’s 6-1 group-stage victory over Panama back in 2018 but ultimately tasted bitter defeat in the semi-final loss to Croatia.

Now as Southgate’s side prepare to meet their old foes once more in their UEFA EURO 2020 opener on Sunday, Stones believes the lessons learnt from Russia will help guide the young squad this summer.

“The initial feeling [after Russia] was just hurt but I think we had to learn a lot,” he said.

“How we progressed through the tournament we're so proud of and changing the mentality of the nation towards English football. It wasn’t meant to be but we learned a lot from being on the biggest stage.

“It was a collective feeling of how to manage those big games and all the emotions that come with it. Now we know how to prepare for that next time.”