Sport-locker.net met up with Everton and England left back Leighton Baines at an exclusive adidas photo shoot to talk new boots, balls, the World Cup and his personal battle with Ashley Cole for the left back spot in the England team…
How much have you been able to learn by training with Ashley Cole?
With England and the players you are surrounded by you learn every day especially when you first go in. The players are world class and it is a great experience.
What do you think you have to do to be selected ahead of Ashley Cole for England?
I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. I have played a lot more for England recently than in previous years so I am happy with that. As long as the team is doing well. That is the most important thing.
What do you think of the new adidas Predator boots?
They look very lively and interesting, certainly eye catching. For me the most important thing is the feel and that is why I have stuck with Predators over the years and I have seen them evolve. You don’t need to wear them in like you used to. You can just slip them on.
What do you make of the new colourway and how much attention do you pay to the colour?
I started by always wearing black boots, then it was all about white boots and now there are brighter colours out there. It is not something that bothers me too much. Some of the lads love all the colours but for me it is the feel of them.
The new predators are quite light. Does that have an effect on how you take free kicks?
There are some boots out there that have no weight to them at all with no protection. The Predators are light but still have a bit of substance and the grip on them means they are the whole package.
Does having the World Cup at the end of the season change how you train and prepare throughout the season?
It doesn’t affect how you play but it is in the back of your mind so it is important to do all the right things with recovery to make sure that you are available for selection and in good shape.
What were the first pair of football boots you had?
They may not have been the first pair I had but I remember a red pair that I had that I think John Barnes wore. I really wanted them and pestered my parents to buy them. When they did I went to training in them and the rest of the lads gave me a lot of banter about them. I thought they were the best but then the lads weren’t having them so I don’t think I wore them again. I don’t think my mum and dad were too pleased!
Do you think working with Roberto Martinez will help adapt your game in a World Cup year?
The manager’s style is different and it asks more questions of you and hopefully that adds another string to the bow.
What is your favourite World Cup memory?
The one I remember is France 1998 and watching Zinedine Zidane. You get excited watching players like that. A bit like watching Lionel Messi now. Zidane scored some important goals and had some great moments in World Cups as well as some controversial ones which was part of his appeal.
What are your first impressions of the new World Cup ball and how will it affect you as a specialist set piece taker?
Footballs do behave differently. Some dip more than others and sometimes it is harder to get them up and down. The thing I noticed about the World Cup one is the amount of grip on it which will probably help goalkeepers but for me that extra grip will help with free kicks.
It is important to practice and train with a new ball because they do behave differently. I don’t quite know the physics of it but it is important to get used to them.
What would be a good season for Everton?
I think it is important to improve on what you have done before so for us that would be getting back into Europe. A lot of teams have strengthened so it will be harder than ever.
What do you think of the new predators? Do you think Leighton Baines deserves a place in the England team ahead of Ashley Cole for World Cup 2014? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.