It’s the summer of 2018. It’s been six years since the Lions moved into their new home – St George’s Park. Players look motivated, and happy to put on the famous shirt. The pressure that sunk previous generations doesn’t seem to be affecting the young Lions. A new energy surrounds the England team.
The magic of football in the air is palpable, a sense of unity is overflowing the streets and homes of the nation.
Gary, the local pensioner, who is usually a man of few words is now stumbling out the pub with bredrin in arms, ‘It’s coming home, it’s coming hoooome’ he chants at the top of his lungs, as England reach their first semi-final in 18 years.
The anticipation of lifting the coveted World Cup, which has long eluded the grasp of even our golden generation, is only 2 wins away. Is it really coming home?
Ultimately, England fans were left disappointed to not at least get to the final after a string of favourable draws that ended with a defeat to an experienced Croatian side that although talented, one could argue, were there for the taking.
It’s clear that England were missing something during that game and that something may have finally come along.
For too long, England fans have looked on enviously at the midfield maestros of the Italians, the Spanish, the German, the French and more recently, the Belgians. A player that oozes flair and a ruthless cutting edge in the final third, a player that unlocks doors like a thief in the night.
The last player to possess these qualities was a young Jack Wilshere. A player that was able to stand out and impress against the genius minds of Xavi, Busquests and Iniesta, during their prime. Unfortunately, his career has been hampered by injuries and inconsistent performances.
The newest player to fit that maestro description is Stockport’s very own, Phil Foden. Is Phil Foden David Silva? Certainly not. Can he become a player like him? Certainly so.
With David Silva set to leave the club, Foden will have an opportunity to finally cement a starting position for himself.
Playing regularly in a side like Manchester City, under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, will unquestionably facilitate his development.
Over on the red side of Manchester, there’s another prodigious talent enchanting fans with his performances, who is arguably even more tantalising.
The 18 year old has been hailed by his manager as potentially ‘the best finisher he’s seen’. High praise from a manager who by the way, was no slouch himself in front of goal and played with premier league legends – such as Eric Cantona, Ruud Van Nistolroy, Andy Cole and many others.
He recently joined an exclusive club that includes Wayne Rooney, Brian Kidd and George Best by scoring his 17th goal of the season as a teenager.
His name? Mason Greenwood.
Mason Greenwood’s recent performances have been so thrilling in fact that Roy Keane, a man known for his passionate rants and tough exterior, has been left unable to contain a smile and grin when asked about the youngster. If the goals haven’t convinced you of Greenwood’s ability, this surely will.
The thing that sets Greenwood apart from other finishers on the England team is his uncanny ability to use both feet to unleash fearsome and full-bodied strikes with bad intentions. A dual-wielder, who is able to unsheathe with either foot to devastating effect. He is as two footed as any player to ever grace the premier league.
You might’ve seen him take a free kick with his left, just to witness him later on take a penalty with his right. It’s truly bonkers what this kid can do.
His deadly eye in front of goal has seen him become one of the most efficient frontmen in the premier league this season.
The post-lockdown transformation his body has undergone is yet another weapon added to his already extensive arsenal. Gaining 3kgs in his upper body, will allow him to muscle defenders to gain that extra yard or stay on his feet for long enough to fire off a shot. There was another Red Devil who decided to bulk up early in his career – and he went on to win 5 Ballon D’ors.
Now whether Greenwood will emulate that legend is hard to say this early on in his career, but the bulk up shows that Greenwood is serious about his development as a footballer. Combine that with his precocious gifts… the sky is the limit.
With the loaded squad already available for Southgate, the additions of Foden and Greenwood could be the final piece to the puzzle. A puzzle that has left England unable to lift a trophy since that famous 66’ World Cup. England have never lacked talented players, many of whom were unable to put it all together on the international stage.
Will Foden and Greenwood flourish… or fizzle? Only time will tell.