‘It was one of the hardest moments of my life… I am just happy to repay him’: England’s two-goal hero Phil Foden thanks manager Gareth Southgate for shot at redemption in win over Iceland having being sent home in disgrace on previous call-up
Phil Foden lit up Wembley with a glorious performance that enabled him to finally banish the hardest moment of his life.
Manchester City midfielder Foden became the youngest player, at 20 years and 174 days, to score two goals in one match for England at the national stadium. He also provided an assist for Declan Rice in a 4-0 blitzing of Iceland. Mason Mount completed the scoring.
It was a night when England’s young players showed their burgeoning talent but nobody shone brighter than Foden, who was banished from the squad last month for breaching coronavirus protocols, along with Mason Greenwood, during September’s trip to Iceland.
Phil Foden marked his return to the England line-up with two goals in the win over Iceland
Foden’s brace capped off an excellent display from the Manchester City star at Wembley
Gareth Southgate felt Foden was inhibited in his first few days back in this camp but the head coach said this swaggering display was evidence as to why he picked him in September – and the youngster was thrilled to repay that faith.
‘It was one of the hardest moments of my life to be honest,’ said Foden. ‘That is the time you need the trust of your managers and Gareth had a lot of respect for me to play me and trust me. It means everything. I am just happy to repay him with the goals and play well.
‘I was determined to get back and do the best as I can. I was a little bit nervous but I enjoyed it a lot. My first goals for England mean a lot to me. I just couldn’t stop smiling. It was an unbelievable feeling. When you score your confidence is high I took the second goal well from outside the box.’
Foden opened his account for the evening by grabbing England’s third goal late on
England team-mates congratulate Foden following his goal in the Nations League encounter
Southgate has spoken with Foden on several occasions since the transgression in Reykjavik. He gave him minutes as substitute in last Thursday’s defeat of the Republic of Ireland and felt this fixture was the perfect moment to let him loose.
‘It took him a few days to relax,’ said Southgate. ‘What he had been through was really tough for a young player. But in the last few days, he started to smile a bit more. I’m really pleased. We know what he is capable of doing. He is going to be very exciting for England in the next few years.’
There were several positives for Southgate at the end of a period that has been draining. He spoke candidly about the schedule England have faced and said: “we should have even been playing (International football) in September.”
But there was a rhythm to England’s play – albeit against inferior opponents – and he was thrilled by the efforts of Mount and Rice, the childhood friends who played in central midfield and helped dictate the pace of the contest.
Mount said: ‘I had the freedom to go a bit forward and link up with Jack (Grealish), Phil and Harry (Kane). That attack we had was deadly. It was a good performance.’