Phil Foden felt pressure to perform on his first World Cup start before experiencing “one of the best feelings” during England’s 3-0 victory over Wales.
The Manchester City midfielder was included in the starting XI by Gareth Southgate, who was widely scrutinised for not introducing the 22-year-old as a substitute in the goalless draw with the United States.
Foden did not disappoint and drew the free-kick from which Marcus Rashford broke the deadlock, before doubling the Three Lions’ lead by arriving at the far post to tuck away Harry Kane’s inviting cross.
“It is hard not to hear what everyone is saying,” he told England’s official YouTube channel. “But at the same time, I try not to read too much and just try to be me and be humble and work hard.
“I felt a little bit of pressure going into the game to be honest because everyone was pushing for me to play. I just tried to remember to relax and play my own football.
“I was raring to get the start and thanks to Gareth, he started me against Wales. I thought that all the wingers had scored and ‘when is it going to be my chance?’ So, to get the opportunity to play in such a big game and to score was extra special.
“It was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my career. You could see by my celebration, it meant so much. I expect more from myself, I expect more goals, so to get in at the back post as a winger is what you always what to see.”
A first @FIFAWorldCup goal for @PhilFoden.
What a feelingpic.twitter.com/rCaT2w5O12
— England (@England) November 29, 2022
After England progressed to the knockout stages as Group B winners, Foden will hope to retain his place for the last-16 tie against Senegal on Sunday and he feels the Three Lions’ strength in depth will prove crucial as they aim to go deep in Qatar.
“You can see the balance right through the team, it is not just the attackers doing well, Harry Maguire and John Stones have done brilliantly defending as well, it is a full team effort,” he said.
“A lot of different players have played, but every time they have put on the England shirt they have done the best they can. It is good to have that competition and everyone is ready to go – it’s important.
“To win a World Cup, you don’t just have a strong XI, you have people that can come off the bench and change it, that’s what we have here. We have so much talent on the bench, so it is important.”
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