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Sep 12, 2010

Adam Johnson in dreamland after double strike

Manchester City winger Adam Johnson has admitted he is finding is hard to get used to his new-found fame after scoring in both of England's Euro 2012 qualifiers this month.

Johnson just missed out on a place in England's squad for the World Cup finals, with coach Fabio Capello choosing to take Joe Cole, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Aaron Lennon instead. But now Johnson is a certain member of the England squad for the European Championships qualifying campaign after coming off the bench to score against both Bulgaria and Switzerland.

"Four caps in and England fans are singing my name - it's unbelievable," he told the People. "Everything has happened so fast for me in the last eight days with the team. Scoring two goals and the fans singing my name - I'm in a dream world.

"I've always said I like to impress and excite the fans - that's what they come to watch. It certainly was what I wanted to watch as a kid because players who attack defenders, those who are skillful, take people on and excite the crowd are the ones you want to see.

"Giggs and people like that. Ginola in his prime used to go past people fully, not just half a yard to get a cross in. I like to see players who go fully past their opponent. I'm left-footed like they were and was always a left-winger growing up. But in the modern day game you have to be able to play on either side.

"I'll play anywhere, either wing. I probably do my best work down the right but I've played more games as a left-winger. All the top wingers play on the opposite side so they can come in on their stronger foot. It shows with Messi and players like that, who play on the opposite sides, with the number of goals they get.

"Going down the outside to get crosses in seems to be going out of the game - it's more about cutting inside and playing off the front man. That's what Arjen Robben does. You saw it in the World Cup, players cutting inside from the wing. That's the way the game is going.

Johnson, 23, was essentially a late-comer to the Premier League. Although he made 24 starts for Middlesbrough in the top flight, they came across four seasons and it wasn't until he joined Manchester City in an £8 million deal in January that he has become a true top-flight performer. He has already made 17 starts for City.

"I wouldn't say it's been a case of proving myself, more like making up for lost time," he said."I froze for two years of my career at Boro when I could have been playing week-in, week-out. I was just sitting on the bench. But that's behind me now and I'm just trying to make up for lost time. I think a lot of people thought I was going to go to City and be a squad player.

"But I knew, deep down, when I signed that I would be playing with better players who would bring on my game. As soon as I got in the team I felt comfortable. Just because City have spent big money doesn't change anything for me. I still just have to play my own game. I wasn't fazed by any of the big money signings or anything.

"I was disappointed not to go to South Africa and people have made an issue of the manager's view that I was nervous on my England debut last season and maybe not ready. I didn't really think that was a problem. Once you make your debut for your country you are going to be excited but I didn't really feel like that.

"Everything happened so quickly with me going with England when I'd been in the Championship in January. But I was in one of the best bits of form of my career and I was disappointed I didn't go because I was on such good form.

"Now I'm in the squad I've obviously got to keep playing well for my club and, hopefully, I'll be involved in every game with England."

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