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Posted on 6 May 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

England Under-17 defender Leigh Mills talks exclusively to about the joys of playing for England and his hopes for the forthcoming European U17 Championship campaign.

Mills is part of John Peacock’s 18-man squad that flew out to Italy on Sunday to compete in the UEFA U17 Championship which kicks-off today, with England playing first-time qualifiers Belarus before further games against Turkey and hosts Italy.

The tall centre-back will be hopeful of playing an important role in the heart of England’s defence and emulating the successes of some of his heroes.

"During my playing career, the player that I have based myself most on is John Terry," says the 17-year-old. "He is a great role model for any player and his defensive abilities are out of this world.

"Then there’s Ledley King at Tottenham who I look up to a lot," Mills continues. "He’s an inspiration for the young defenders at Spurs, especially with him having proven himself with the England team.

"If I do get to see him train or at games it really helps - you can learn so much from seeing him and others in action. He’s more of a ball-playing defender than I am so I can definitely learn off him.

"We have a large squad at Tottenham so it has been hard to break into the reserves. I have only played a few games in the reserves this season, which is nice, but I would like, hopefully, to play more next season and try and get a regular spot."

Prior to joining Tottenham last summer, Mills started out at Swindon and at the County Ground another defender with England and Tottenham connections was also there to impart his valuable experience.

"At Swindon we had Neil Ruddock and he gave me a few hints when I was about 12 or 13-years old.

"He used to come along to some of our games and then anything he’d seen he would just pass on to us and I have taken his advice and carried it with me ever since."

Mills was involved in the two qualifying wins over Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and still gets a buzz when he steps out to play for his country.

"I have got 11 caps for England and every single one of them you cherish," he says. "I’ve got the shirts from all the games and it is a fantastic experience whether you are playing at Molineux in front of 8,000 fans or in front of one man and his dog away in Slovenia - it’s always a dream.

"When you put on the shirt it is a big, big thing. You stand in line before the match and look down and see the Three Lions and it is an unbelievable feeling.

"My first game was against Wales and I was captain as well so that was a massive honour."

With England being ranked as Europe’s top side and Peacock’s team having won all three of their qualifying matches, confidence is high that the Three Lions can do well in the tournament.

"We all hope and believe we can win the tournament and qualify for the World Finals in Peru," Mills says. "We’ve got the players in the squad who have the quality to win it, it’s just making sure we keep together and believe in ourselves.

"For us at the back, clean sheets are a must if we are to do well and my aims and objectives are to shut the opposition out and let the boys at the front score the goals."

Though traditionally strong youth sides such as France, Portugal and Spain have failed to qualify, Mills warns against anyone believing life will be easy in Group A.

"It’s going to be tough. On paper it may not sound like the biggest or hardest draw but all the teams are there on merit — they’ve done what we have done so we are all on level terms at the moment."