Callum Hudson-Odoi: Full England debut is absolutely crazy

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Callum Hudson-Odoi has described getting his full England debut as “absolutely crazy”.

The Wandsworth-born attacker became the youngest player in the history of England’s national team to win his first cap in a competitive match – 18 years and 135 days. It breaks the record which was held by Duncan Edwards (18 years and 183 days) since April 1955.

England beat the Czech Republic 5-0 at Wembley on Friday night to make a dream start to the European Championship qualifying campaign.

Hudson-Odoi replaced Raheem Sterling in the 70th minute and it was his shot – saved by Jiri Pavlenka – which then deflected back off Tomas Kalas and into the net to round off the scoring.

Kennington-raised Jadon Sancho, who turned 19 yesterday, also starred for the Three Lions.

Hudson-Odoi, raised in Colliers Wood, said: “To get the call to come on the pitch was absolutely crazy. I’m absolutely delighted.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet, to be fair. I’m still thinking that I’m dreaming, that it’s not real. Tomorrow [Saturday] it’ll probably sink in properly, but today I’m really happy.

“He [Gareth Southgate, England head coach] told me: ‘Go on the pitch and express yourself, be just how you are at your club. Go and do what you do.

Hudson-Odoi has been friends with Sancho from a young age.

“We used to play against each other and have always been close friends,” he said. “When I was at Chelsea and he was at Watford we used to play against each other and stuff like that. We’d always talked off the pitch, we always call each other, speak to each other, see how each other is going.”

It has been suggested that the pair both play without fear. Hudson-Odoi believes that is down to their South London upbringings.

“We’ve been playing sometimes on the streets – that’s how we play. We normally play in the park and in the cages. It’s definitely good because we have that raw mentality, that mentality to go at defenders, be confident, be yourself, don’t be shy of no one. It’s great we have the confidence and ability to do that, so we’ve just to keep going and you never know.

“He’s had a great season and since I’ve been here he’s helped me from day one. Having a friend like that is always amazing, just to bring you into the team and help you feel yourself and be yourself.”

England U21 boss Aidy Boothroyd has described Hudson-Odoi’s promotion to the senior squad as a loan – and that he’ll be back at the lower age group for the European Championships in the summer.

“I always have the same mentality – no matter if it is U18s, U21s or the first team,” said Hudson-Odoi.
“I’m not going to change because I’ve had one game with the first team. I’m still going to have the same mentality – go over there, be humble, be the same way and work hard.”

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