Ben Godfrey: From Tesco to England call
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Ben Godfrey admitted an England call up would fulfil a boyhood dream, before Norwich City’s record sale gatecrashed Gareth Southgate's Euro plans.
Godfrey was included in a preliminary 33-man list announced on Tuesday afternoon, that Southgate will reduce to 26 next week, following a stand out debut season at Everton.
The 23-year-old captained his country at Under-21 level this season in a failed European Championship tilt at that age group level.
But his seniors call marks another high in a career that landed a big money move to Merseyside last summer.
“For every young English lad that is the ambition,” said Godfrey, speaking ahead of the announcement. “It was something I had spoken about with my parents for years. When I first got a call up at the younger age levels it was a massive moment and the family were over the moon.
"It is one of those bonuses you get for working hard. If I keep working hard, and keep learning, I will give myself a chance to get that call up.
“To captain my country was amazing. From where I have come from I have to be proud of my journey. I set out as a boy to play Premier League football and getting promoted (at Norwich) and signing for Everton are the two proudest moments of my career.
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"Now I have to stay hungry because there is a lot more to achieve.”
His former club stand to cash in if the centre back makes the final cut this summer and starts a competitive game for England at the tournament.
Godfrey, speaking to Talksport, has reflected on his meteoric rise after moving from York to Norfolk in 2016.
“I remember I was driving into Tesco car park back home and I got a call from my old agent saying Norwich were interested,” he said. “I was gobsmacked as Norwich were a Premier League club. It was massive.
"When I knew it was coming I just wanted to get it done. To jump from League Two to the Premier League was surreal and scary.
“I had to bide my time, and going on loan to Shrewsbury was a massive turning point. When I got in the Norwich side I grabbed my chance and gained the manager’s trust.
"Winning the Championship title is definitely up there with anything I have done. How many times as a player do you get to lift a trophy? The final whistle against Blackburn (when Norwich got promoted) was a feeling I can’t describe.
"The stadium was bouncing. Especially when you think of football now with no supporters in the stadium. That was a mad couple of weeks in my career.
“Playing in the Premier League, captaining in the Premier League. Then there was talk of me going abroad but when I found out Everton were interested it was a no brainer. Such a proud moment for me and my family and I have loved every minute.”
Toffees' boss Carlo Ancelotti has hailed Godfrey's first campaign in blue.
"All I have to say is that Ben Godfrey was a fantastic player this season," quoted by the Liverpool Echo.
"I only have to say that his season was really good, he was a fantastic signing in the summer.
"He did a season with a fantastic consistency while changing position most of the time. He played left back, right back, he played centre back - and every time he did really well, I'm really satisfied.
"He's tactically good, he can play in all of the positions without any problems, he's played two months at left back. He's always good.
"But I think England has fantastic defenders."
Another former Norwich player, James Maddison, has missed out on the preliminary squad despite finishing the season as an FA Cup winner at Leicester City.
The majority of the England party will assemble at Middlesbrough’s Rockcliffe Hall training base on Saturday, with players from Champions League finalists Manchester City and Chelsea and Europa League finalists Manchester United joining at a later date.
After Southgate names his final 26-man squad England will meet Austria and Romania in friendlies at Championship club Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on June 2 and June 6, respectively.
England kick off their tournament against 2018 World Cup semi-final opponents Croatia on June 13 at Wembley and return to the national stadium on June 18 to face Scotland.
England finish their Group D campaign against Czech Republic, also at Wembley, on June 22.