Tyrone Mings is aiming to keep his place in the England defence for their much-anticipated Euro 2020 clash with Scotland – a decade on from a failed trial at non-league Eastleigh.
The Aston Villa centre-back looked at home as he started England’s 1-0 win over Croatia in their Group D opener on Sunday.
Mings will be hoping to retain his position at the heart of Gareth Southgate’s defence despite Harry Maguire’s fitness continuing to improve.
If he does walk out onto the Wembley pitch on Friday night, the 28-year-old could be forgiven for casting his mind back to his well-documented journey through the footballing pyramid.
— Eastleigh FC (@EastleighFC) June 13, 2021
One of those steps was a short trial at Eastleigh – which included a friendly appearance against the Falkland Islands in 2011 – and which the now-National League side drew to public attention after Mings’ recent display.
“It was a bit cheeky to post that picture of me in their kit because they turned me down as well,” he said when asked about his experience with the Spitfires.
“Yes, I went on trial down there for a few days spaced over a couple of weeks. We played a game there but there was a lot of people all trialling at the same time.
“They didn’t offer me a contract, at the same time, it was for their first team and I wasn’t quite developed enough as I think I was 17 or 18. So to go straight into their team probably wouldn’t have suited me anyway.”
The friendly was played to get the Falkland Islands ready for the Island games – now Mings is part of an England squad aiming for European Championship success.
“Surreal is probably a good word but at the same time, it also feels very, very real,” he added.
“I was speaking to my friend last night that it is weird that this feels normal. Not that I take it for granted, but I have been a professional footballer for a long time now.
“So sometimes when you play at a major tournament with Wembley, it is a nice time to have a reflection on what’s happening and going on.
“It has been a great journey up until now but I am also looking to make it an even better one as well.”