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An England call-up for the European Championship is “mind blowing” and being with the squad has been “very surreal”, says defender Ben White.
White, 23, made his international debut in last week’s 1-0 friendly win over Austria and replaced the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 26-man squad.
Prior to his call-up, Brighton centre-back White had never been involved in an England set-up at any level.
“To make it to the final squad was unbelievable,” said White.
He was originally named in the provisional 33-man squad by Gareth Southgate but did not make the original cut for the tournament.
However, a thigh injury to full-back Alexander-Arnold against Austria opened up a space and although Jesse Lingard and James Ward-Prowse were strong contenders to be selected, White got the nod.
White said: “It’s been very surreal. Obviously I didn’t think this would be happening. I thought I’d be somewhere hot like Portugal [for the summer].
“It’s mind-blowing. I didn’t really expect any of it to happen. To make it to the final squad was unbelievable.
“I don’t think it can be bad news when the gaffer is going to ring you. I was just waiting for the call. I don’t think I’ve let it settle in yet.
“It’s something I’ve never felt before. It’s very difficult. It’s news that doesn’t normally come around. I was speechless and I felt amazing.”
Foden haircut draws Gazza comparisons
Midfielder Phil Foden is in line to start for the Three Lions in their Euros opener against Croatia on Sunday.
The 21-year-old won the Premier League and Carabao Cup with Manchester City last season but suffered heartbreak in the Champions League final defeat by Chelsea.
But it is his new haircut in the lead-up to the tournament which has got people talking.
“First of all I’ve had the same haircut for ages so I wanted something new,” said Foden. “I woke up this morning to all the comparisons to Gazza and Eminem. It was my own thing! It’s all been positives. I’m surprised about that.
“I remember watching highlights on TV of Gazza. I know what it means for the country. It wouldn’t be too bad if I tried to bring a bit of Gazza on the pitch.”
‘England players should never stick to being footballers’
England head into the Euros as one of the favourites, led by boss Gareth Southgate who has assembled a youthful side that is packed with talent and managing to discard cliques of old.
But they head into the opening game on the back of the distraction of being booed by their own fans for taking the knee before games – which is being done to highlight racial injustice.
“Our players are role models,” Southgate wrote in The Players’ Tribune, an article headlined ‘Dear England’.
“And, beyond the confines of the pitch, we must recognise the impact they can have on society. We must give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and the things that matter to them as people.
“I have never believed that we should just stick to football.
“I know my voice carries weight, not because of who I am but because of the position that I hold. At home, I’m below the kids and the dogs in the pecking order but publicly I am the England men’s football team manager. I have a responsibility to the wider community to use my voice, and so do the players.
“It’s their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.”