I’m a one-cap England star who found myself with no club or identity at 26 – now I want to help others in the same boat

FORMER England international Stephen Caulker has set up a training camp for ex-academy players in a bid to give them a second chance.

The centre-back, 31, was left without a club five years ago despite four years at Tottenham and other Premier League stints with Swansea, Cardiff, QPR, Southampton and Liverpool.

England’s Steven Caulker played one game for England in 2012PA:Press Association

He has set up a training camp to help give struggling footballers a second chanceAction Images – Reuters

He eventually found a career resurgence in Scotland and then Turkey, but he is also aware some players never receive that opportunity.

Now a free agent once more after a brief stint with Wigan, Caulker has spoken about the residential training camp he has set up called “Behind the White Lines”.

And the defender, who played and scored in his only England appearance in a 4-2 defeat to Sweden in 2012, has revealed just how much it impacted him when he was struggling to find a team.

Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “At 26, I found myself without a club.

“I didn’t know where to go, who to turn to, who I was even. I had no identity. It took a long time for me to get my head around that.”

He went on to add: “But for those who are 18, 19, with nothing behind them, where do they go?”

A couple of famous faces have been brought in to speak to the ex-academy pros including retired right-back Chris Ramsey and former Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie.

Part of the aim of the training camp is to give individuals a path back into the professional game.

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However, Caulker insists it is “OK” if that does not happen as the main purpose is to help the “people” rather than the “footballer”.

He said: “If just one of the lads takes something from the week it will be worth it.”

Caulker, who has been honest about his struggles with gambling and substance abuse in the past, switched allegiances from England to Sierra Leone in 2021 and has already earned 13 caps.

He played in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations as the country were eliminated in the group stage.

Earlier this year, Caulker opened up about the nightmare period he suffered in Turkey – particularly with Fenerbahce where he failed to play a single game.

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