If this tournament went ahead last summer, Phil Foden would unlikely have been in England’s squad for the European Championship. Now the Manchester City midfielder seems likely to start Sunday’s Group E opener against Croatia following a breakthrough campaign in which he won a third Premier League and a number of individual awards.
Yet for all the plaudits and comparisons and an ascent to superstardom, the club campaign ended on the most sour of notes as Chelsea defeated City in the Champions League final.
When Foden reported for duty at the start of last weekend, along with clubmates Kyle Walker and John Stones, he soon found himself in the company of Chelsea’s three European champions. It is a curious dynamic, enhanced by the likelihood familiar club foe Mason Mount will be next to him on the pitch, fighting for the same cause.
The pain of that loss in Porto, less than a fortnight ago, will linger but Foden’s approach at overcoming it is unsurprising: get back on the horse as quick as possible.
“I feel like the best way to forget about what happened is to play your football,” he said. “When I am back on the training pitch with the guys here I forget about it straight away and just focus on England and trying to do well here.
“Obviously it hurts losing such an important game. You have to forget about it, your teammates and you are all working really hard together.”
Having so many players involved in club football’s biggest fixture could also benefit England at a tournament in which they are de facto hosts and the familiar feeling of expectation is growing.
“That can definitely help us,” the 21-year-old added. “We’ve had a lot of players playing important games so we’ll know what it feels like if we get to those matches.”
The midfielder could also come up against Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour when England host Scotland at Wembley on Friday week.
Gilmour was a surprise inclusion in Steve Clarke’s squad but Foden is wary of the challenge that will be posed should he face another familiar club opponent.
“He’s a great talent,” the City star said. “He’s still so young and has a lot to learn but I’ve played against him a few times and every time I’ve played against him I’ve been impressed. He’s definitely going to be a great player in the future and he’ll be a great player for Scotland.”