Tonight: Westfalenstadion, 7.45pm
Referee: Damier Skomina (Slo)
TV: Live on ITV
Bet: Germany 3/4 England 15/4 Draw 11/4
Livermore was a surprise inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad to face Germany tonight and Lithuania four days later, having earned his solitary cap five years ago.
Since he last wore the Three Lions, the 27-year-old midfielder experienced the trauma of his newborn child’s death, testing positive for cocaine in May 2015 as he struggled to deal with the loss.
Having avoided a two-year ban – his unique circumstances taken as mitigation by the FA – Livermore rebuilt his career, first helping Hull win promotion to the Premier League, then earning a £10m January move to West Brom, where his displays caught Southgate’s attention.
Livermore believes his experiences have changed him, and he remains grateful for the support he received at his own low ebb – be it from Hull, whose then boss Steve Bruce took his duty of care with the player to heart, or those who heard his case – and wants to be there for others in future.
He was, for example, quick to make contact with Bournemouth skipper Arter when the Irish midfielder’s daughter was stillborn in December 2015.
“I think he’s conducted himself brilliantly and I’m over the moon he’s now out the other side,” said Livermore. “I did reach out to him and say if there was any point he needed me. We became good friends after.
“Everyone has their own story and everyone will be opened up to different opportunities or temptations. It’s nice to be able to help someone and give something back because when I really needed it I was fortunate to have that with the FA and my club.”
Livermore admits an England recall was a “distant dream” during his darkest days and wants to give something back to others in troubled times.
“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to represent my country again, the longer it goes the harder it seems to get,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have thought it would come, it was in my distant dreams. To be honest it wasn’t overly in my thoughts, it was more just wanting to get back into club football and put a positive spin on my career, for my friends, for my family and those who stuck by me – the FA among them.
Having this opportunity to repay them in any way, shape or form is like a dream for me.”
England headed to Germany yesterday without Manchester United defender Phil Jones, who picked up an unspecified knock.
Meanwhile Germany head coach Joachim Low is more interested in England’s potential than their struggles as recently-appointed Southgate attempts to bring “modern football” to a side in transition.
Last March there was a feel-good factor around the national team after Roy Hodgson’s men secured a remarkable 3-2 comeback win in the world champions’ backyard.
But England’s triumph in Berlin proved a rare moment of joy in a desperate year for the national team, with the Euro 2016 exit to minnows Iceland the lowest moment.
Low had expected the Three Lions to challenge for the crown in France and, despite a year of turbulence, believes a positive future lies ahead as Southgate prepares to take charge of his first match since permanently succeeding Sam Allardyce.
“Well, what you can really see is that England are a team in transit, as it were,” the Germany head coach said.
“Their coach has promised for them to play a more modern football, more possession-orientated. I watched a re-run of the game against Spain and that was a really strong performance.
“England have some fantastic individual players, very fast off the blocks, very pacy, prepared to take risks on the pitch. I think if there is one attribute I would give is that it’s a team in change, a team that is changing.”
Lukas Podolski will make his 130th and final appearance tonight. Podolski, suggests Low’s longevity is behind Germany’s superior major tournament displays, culminating in World Cup glory three years ago.
“We, unlike England, have had a great coach for the last 10 years, so that has given us consistency as far as that is concerned,” the ex-Arsenal forward said. Podolski is set to captain Germany in his farewell match, which Manuel Neuer, Mario Gomez, and Julian Draxler will miss