Phil Foden insists he has no concerns over comparisons to Paul Gascoigne as he targets European Championship glory with England.
The Manchester City forward courted further similarities as he arrived at St George’s Park to continue preparations for Sunday’s opener against Croatia with dyed blond hair.
Gascoigne sported the same style during Euro 96 as he shone in England’s run to the semi-finals and Foden is aiming to go one better, having regained the trust of England boss Gareth Southgate after being sent home from duty last year.
Foden enjoyed a fine season at City, scoring 16 goals and winning PFA Young Player of the Year as Pep Guardiola’s side won the Premier League and Carabao Cup double as well as reaching the Champions League final.
The 21-year-old did not feature in either of England’s warm-up wins following an extended break after the loss to Chelsea in the Champions League showpiece but is in contention to start on Sunday.
England face Scotland at Wembley in the next Group D fixture – a game in which Gascoigne shone at Euro 96 at the same venue, offering further opportunities to compare the duo.
“I remember watching highlights on the TV of Gazza – an unbelievable player,” he said.
“The full nation know what he means to the country and what he did, so it won’t be too bad if I try to bring a bit of Gazza on to the pitch.
“I don’t think you can listen too much to what people are saying. I have to try and keep my feet on the ground and just being me and keep doing what has done well for me this year.
“I try and come off social media as much as I can. Not try and read it too much.”
Foden will not be the first young player to go into a major tournament with England carrying a weight of expectation on his shoulders.
He believes too much is sometimes expected of young talent but feels the current crop – with Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad having an average age of under 25 – will shrug off those expectations in an attempt to secure silverware this summer.
“I believe that is true,” he replied when asked if players are elevated too early.
“When someone is doing well, the media jump all over it but we have a lot of young players in the team.
“They are all very level-headed so it’s not going to get to me or any of the young players, we are just going to keep focused and just try and bring it home.”
It has not been a smooth path for Foden, however, after he and Mason Greenwood were sent home after making their debuts in a Nations League game in Iceland last October for a breach of Covid rules.
“Obviously I made a massive mistake, I was young,” he said.
“But Gareth said if I keep just doing well and keep performing I should get another opportunity. So I had to work hard for it and there are not many managers who would give you another opportunity so I have to thank Gareth a lot for giving me another chance.
Asked if his new look was a tribute to Gascoigne, Foden added: “I’ve had the same haircut for what seems like ages now so I thought I’d just try something new.
“I woke up this morning with a lot of comparisons to Gazza and Eminem so yeah it was my own thing and people have turned it into something else.
“They (his England team-mates) have said that they’ve liked it so it’s a positive. It’s all been positive – which I’ve been surprised about.”