We are young and play with no fear, says Fo­den

New Eng­land call-up tar­gets win­ning tour­na­ments with side City mid­fielder hopes to build on Un­der-17 World Cup suc­cess

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Matt Law FOOTBALL NEWS CORRESPOND­ENT

Grow­ing up in the Stock­port sub­urb of Edge­ley, Phil Fo­den, like thousands of young­sters, scored the World Cup-win­ning goal hun­dreds of times dur­ing kick­abouts.

But, un­like the mini-Wayne Rooneys and the wannabe Steven Ger­rards, Fo­den did not pick an Eng­land player to pre­tend to be. He was Phil Fo­den. And Fo­den has made it clear that sim­ply be­ing picked for Eng­land is not the ful­fil­ment of a dream. His aim is to turn those child­hood games into re­al­ity.

Fo­den, who has been called into Gareth South­gate’s squad for the first time for the Na­tions League games against Ice­land and Den­mark, said: “When I was younger, ev­ery kid on the es­tate used to dream of play­ing for Eng­land and pretended they were play­ing. That’s some­thing I used to do and now I’m in the se­nior team it seems crazy and it’s still not sunk in. I’m hop­ing I can make my de­but, be­cause it will be a big mo­ment for my fam­ily and I’m go­ing to en­joy it.”

Asked who he used to pre­tend to be while play­ing for his imag­i­nary Eng­land team, Fo­den said: “It used to be me that was play­ing for Eng­land. I used to think of my­self be­ing in the team, so that’s why I’m so glad to be here. I’m hop­ing I can get the chance to play and then my dream will come true.”

But Fo­den’s Eng­land am­bi­tions ex­tend far be­yond sim­ply play­ing for the na­tional team. The 20-yearold is ap­proach­ing in­ter­na­tional football in the same man­ner that he has been taught at Manch­ester City – to win.

Dur­ing 74 ca­reer ap­pear­ances for City, Fo­den has been part of a squad who have won two Premier League ti­tles, the FA Cup and three League Cups, with the mid­fielder be­ing named man of the match in last sea­son’s fi­nal vic­tory over As­ton Villa.

He has also tasted suc­cess in an Eng­land youth shirt, win­ning the Un­der-17 World Cup in 2017, so it is un­sur­pris­ing that he wants to achieve se­nior glory over what prom­ises to be a long ca­reer.

“I want to try and keep the shirt

and play for Eng­land for many years,” Fo­den said. “I feel like, as a team, we can go fur­ther than what we have in the past. I feel con­fi­dent with the way we are go­ing and the play­ers that we have. We need to start win­ning tour­na­ments.” The trip to Ice­land to­mor­row would nor­mally evoke mem­o­ries of one of Eng­land’s worst hu­mil­i­a­tions, the 2016 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship de­feat, but only four play­ers who started that game re­main in the squad, and Fo­den was only 16 back then. Eng­land’s fear of past fail­ures is not a prob­lem for the likes of Fo­den, Ma­son Green­wood, 18, and the lat­est gen­er­a­tion, which also in­cludes Jadon San­cho, 20.

“We are a young team and noth­ing fazes us,” Fo­den said. “We go out and play our football. I think that is a good thing be­cause we don’t think too much and we can start con­trol­ling games now. We have the play­ers for that.”

Fo­den will still stop and ad­mire his Un­der-17 World Cup medal when he passes the cabi­net it sits in at his child­hood home, and that suc­cess in an Eng­land shirt makes it eas­ier for him to vi­su­alise big­ger in­ter­na­tional prizes in the fu­ture.

“The medal is still at my par­ents’ house and I go there quite a lot, so I see it all the time. Some­times I will walk past and take a look at all the tro­phies I have won. It’s nice to go back and see what I have won. It’s prob­a­bly my most cher­ished medal, along with the Premier League.

“If you win youth tour­na­ments it can give you the ex­pe­ri­ence to go and win one with the first team. I feel like win­ning the World Cup helped me play­ing on a big stage and not to feel the pres­sure. I’ve played many big games for Man City now and I have learnt to cope with the fans and the pres­sure.”

What also could help Fo­den is the de­par­ture of his City men­tor, David Silva, whom he would love to work with again. Asked if he ex­pected Silva’s exit to give him more op­por­tu­ni­ties, Fo­den said: “I’m hop­ing so but there’s a lot of mid­field­ers still and a lot of qual­ity in the team, so it’s not just go­ing to mean I get that po­si­tion.”

He added: “I liked David Silva and I got to watch him live in train­ing, so [he] is prob­a­bly the player I looked up to most and tried to learn from. Hope­fully, he could be back one day as a coach.”

Eng­land am­bi­tion: Phil Fo­den dreamed of play­ing for his coun­try as a young­ster

Fig­ures re­late to Man City - all com­pe­ti­tions

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