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
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