Evan Toni says he will not let his chance with England waste him with a World Cup team less than two months away from his selection.
The Brentford striker received his first call-up from Gareth Southgate ahead of the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany this month.
Toni has never played for England’s youth teams, but since Brentford’s promotion to the Premier League he has caught the attention of the England manager.
It is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the striker, who is determined to seize the opportunity he now has with the chance of going to the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon.
England’s 28-man squad to face Italy and Germany
goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, and Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Cody, Eric Dyer, Mark Gueye, Rhys James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Judd Bellingham, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse.
Attackers: Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Evan Toni.
“I never doubted it,” Tony said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“I’ve never played for any of the age groups, I joined directly into the first team. It’s an amazing feat, I’m very proud and I didn’t want to go any other way.
“This is my chance now. I’m excited and confident about it and I’m really hungry. I’ve been working at the moment and she’s here now. I won’t let it pass by me. I’m going to take it with both hands and take the chance I have.”
“No pressure at all – I don’t think I’ve felt pressure in my career yet. It’s both exciting and a privilege to play alongside such outstanding players and represent my country. I’ll go with the flow. Hopefully you get the most out of it.”
“It’s a huge opportunity to get myself on board, but we have to go day in and day out. I hope to get some minutes in the next two games and take my chance. I hope it will be enough to see me in the team.”
When asked what Southgate has said to him so far, Tony revealed: “Just be yourself, you’re here for a reason and not here to make up the numbers. Just do what got you here and be yourself.”
“It’s the main things I’ve been asked to do, so I’m sure I’ll do it and hopefully it will be enough to keep me in the squad for the World Cup.”
Tony previously discussed the sacrifices his family made for his football career, revealing how he told them about his call-up to England.
“From the early stages, my sister would take me to football and do her uniting work while she was waiting for me to take me home while my dad and mom worked,” he said.
“My mum played a huge role, at times making sure I was eating and not herself. She played her part very much, as did my dad in taking me around the country, be it experiences here or there, he came to support me in every game, as I did My other sister.
“Everyone has played a part so it’s a little nicer when I’m sitting here now at the top of England, representing the country. It’s not just me who did this, everyone around me played a part and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was driving to training and the Governor of Brentford called me. I was a little late so I thought he was calling about setting my time. Then he said ‘It’s my honor to tell you that you have been called up to the England senior,’ and I had nothing to say.
“I was driving and wouldn’t say I zoned because that wouldn’t be the best thing to do, but I was thinking ‘Wow, I’m actually going to play for England’s first team.’ Really scored, I was answering the coach’s questions but it hasn’t happened yet.
“I called my dad right away, we have a family group chat, I video call everyone and spread the news. They kept screaming for about 20 minutes and my dad was whistling wherever he was and they must have thought he was going crazy.
“It was a great moment for my whole family, and it was such a great achievement to represent my country.”
Jordan Henderson joined the England national team after recovering from injury. The Liverpool captain arrived at St George’s Park on Monday evening to replace Manchester City midfielder Calvin Phillips, who will have shoulder surgery.
Capello: Are England mentally strong enough to win the World Cup?
Meanwhile, Fabio Capello spoke to Sky Sports, giving his views on Southgate as well as England’s World Cup chances.
The former England manager questioned whether England’s players were mentally strong enough to lift the trophy.
“I’m really interested to see who tops the World Cup in Qatar,” he told Sky Sports.
“As a former England coach when I coached the team in September, October and November, we were ready to face the best teams in the world.
“In March and April, it was like that because the physical level was going down and then we found it very difficult in June.
“I want to test my theory that England are a great team this time of year, so besides having talented players and a great coach, can they really compete and win a major tournament like the World Cup?”
“I said Southgate is under pressure. The only doubt I have is in the players’ heads.
“The English players feel a sense of responsibility. They may come close to success and then feel that sense of responsibility as a weight on their shoulders.
‘If we look at the second half of [Euros] The final against Italy after scoring they stopped playing and what surprised me was that they were already wasting time at 30 minutes. They were wasting time and no longer wanted to play, so they didn’t. This appears to be a mental problem. It is either a physical or mental problem.
“This is what we will find out after the World Cup in Qatar.”
England prepares for the Nations League matches this month. The Three Lions face Italy away on Friday 23 September at 7.45 pm, before hosting Germany on Monday 26 September at 7.45 pm.
November 21: Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off at 1 pm
November 25: United States of America (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor) – kick-off 7pm
November 29: Wales (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off 7pm
Gareth Southgate has revealed his last England squad ahead of the World Cup – but who will make the starting lineup?
What would your England starting line-up look like if the World Cup started today and all the players were available? Use the interactive selector to choose your team below, screenshots you select and share on Twitter Tweet embed.