Everton defender Ben Godfrey admits receiving a personal England call-up from Gareth Southgate was a “surreal” experience.
The 23-year-old has been promoted from the under-21s, with whom he played just two months ago during their ignominious elimination from the group stages of the European Championship, to join the extended pre-Euro 2020 squad.
It is just reward after an impressive debut season for the Toffees, during which he played in all positions across the back four, following his £25million move from Norwich.
Godfrey’s chances of making the final cut of 26 still seem slim, and much may depend on the fitness of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, but just receiving recognition was a thrill for a defender Southgate has watched regularly since the turn of the year.
“It was a surreal moment and I was straight on the phone to my mum and dad to share the news,” he said of his phone call from the national team boss.
“It means so much to me and my family and is a reward for all of the hard work we’ve put in.
“Playing for England is something you dream about from a very young age and to be part of the squad means a lot.”
Godfrey added on evertonfc.com: “I was playing for England Under-21s not long ago but things happen quickly in football – both good and bad – and for me to get the progression into the senior squad shows there is a pathway for younger players to make the step up.
“The manager spoke about my versatility and I think being able to play across the backline for Everton during the season helped show that.
“There is a lot of competition to play for England as well so it’s about showing your quality over a long period of time.
“When you look at the quality of defenders we’ve got, and the players who didn’t make the squad, I know it is an achievement to have made the provisional squad, and now I just want to work hard and see what comes.
“I know the manager is going to announce his final squad of 26 next week but that decision is not up to me.
“My focus now is to do what I always do – stay focused and work hard – and we’ll see what happens.”