AS they settled into the sparkling St George’s Park complex, the impressive new epicentre of the English football, Roy Hodgson’s side were each assigned their own room.
Inside, as with seemingly every nook and cranny of the sprawling facility, is adorned with a portrait of legendary representatives of the Three Lions.
Taking pride of place in the room of Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur’s up-and-coming youngster, is a photograph of David Beckham and Michael Owen.
But if Walker could have his way, he would probably replace it with a photograph of someone he is poised to line up alongside for England’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino at Wembley on Friday evening.
“I’m Sheffield United so my hero was Brian Deane at first, and then when I started to drop back and become a defender it was Phil Jagielka,” says Walker. “He was a hero of mine.
“I remember when he scored a goal against Leeds in the League Cup (in November 2002) I was jumping up and down in the stands.
“So to come here and play with him, sit and eat dinner with him is an honour for me.
“Sometimes he tries to go and get some soup for me and I say to him, ‘You can’t be getting me that. Let me get you some soup!’
“We have a different relationship, but it’s great.”
Such hero worship will no doubt be as much embarrassing as amusing to the unassuming Jagielka, the Everton centre-back renowned for his grounded approach.
John Terry’s international retirement and Rio Ferdinand’s advancing years have left an opening for Jagielka, who started the 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw against Ukraine last month.
Walker has made three appearances in friendlies, the most recent against Italy in August, but with Liverpool defender Glen Johnson serving a one-match ban, is expected to make his competitive bow this week.
And while Jagielka had departed Sheffield United for Goodison 18 months before Walker made his first-team debut at Bramall Lane, it won’t be the first time the duo have exchanged advice during a match.
“I was actually the ball boy in the game when he went in goal against Arsenal (in December 2006),” recalls Walker. “I was behind his net, and he kept on telling me to slow down.
“I’ve seen some sights with him!
“I’ve still not told him he’s my hero, but he’ll probably find out now! I hope his head doesn’t grow too big! I didn’t have a poster of him in my room or anything. I wasn’t that bad.
“We’ve spoken about me being there when he scored that goal. It was against Leeds in the League Cup, he brought it down on his chest, volleyed it from the halfway line and it went in.
“I was jumping up and down in the family stand, where they put all the youth team players.”
Walker continues: “We never played in the same team. When Sheffield United got promoted to the Premier League I got my scholarship, but when we were relegated he went to Everton and that’s when I started coming into the team.
“It would be good to play alongside him for England, but just sitting next to him having dinner is good for me.
“I’m excited at the chance of playing. Who wouldn't be? I'm a 22-year-old, and since the age of seven playing for England is all I've wanted to do. I've got three caps, but they've all been in friendlies so I'm looking forward to playing in a competitive game if I get selected.”
Jagielka could be Merseyside’s only representative on Friday against San Marino, with England skipper Steven Gerrard suspended and Leighton Baines poised to lose his left-back berth to the fit-again Ashley Cole should, as is expected, the Chelsea man avoids a ban over his Twitter furore.
Both Gerrard and Johnson will be available for Tuesday’s far more testing encounter in Poland.
With the Football Association stating Friday’s match has sold out, the near-90,000 attendance would represent the highest crowd San Marino would have ever played in front of, beating their previous best of 51,154 at the old Wembley in 1993.
Indeed, the new Wembley could fit the entire population of San Marino – a mere 32,404 – almost three times over.
After opening their qualifying campaign with a 5-0 romp in Moldova, last month’s draw with Ukraine has cranked up the pressure for Hodgson’s men over the next few days, particularly in Warsaw’s Stadion Narodowy on Tuesday evening.