RYAN SHAWCROSS wrote his name into the history books when he was handed his first England cap in Stockholm on Wednesday evening . . . but he quickly learned just how tough it can be competing at the highest level.
Shawcross became the first Stoke City player to play for England at full international level for 28 years when he was introduced as a substitute for Tottenham Hotspur’s Steven Caulker in the closing stages of the friendly against Sweden.
However, the 25-year-old City captain’s big moment soon became a challenging experience as England were stunned by the remarkable finishing of striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who scored three times in the final 14 minutes of the match.
Ibrahimovic had already got his name on the scoresheet in the first half when he escaped Shawcross' attention moments after his 74th minute introduction, latching onto a through ball to slam his shot past the advancing Joe Hart.
England had led for almost 40 minutes of the game in the newly-constructed Friends Arena through goals in quick succession from Danny Welbeck and debutant Caulker, but the outcome of the game swung in Sweden’s favour.
Having fired his side in front with a free kick six minutes from time, Ibrahimovic then produced a spectacular overhead kick from 30 yards after Hart only managed to half clear a through ball with his head after racing our of his area.
It left Shawcross and his England team-mates shell-shocked at the end of a night which had been going so well just a few minutes earlier.
For the Potters defender, his arrival as a substitute made him the first Stoke player since Mark Chamberlain to play for England at that level back in 1984 when he came off the bench in a World Cup qualifier against Finland.