Phil Foden has thanked England manager Gareth Southgate for giving him a second chance after he was sent home from his first international camp in disgrace in September.
The Manchester City star had just made his England debut against Iceland when details emerged that he and Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood had broken coronavirus restrictions by inviting girls into the team hotel in Reykjavík.
Foden was left out for one more squad before Southgate welcomed him back in November, when he scored his first two international goals against Iceland.
“I made a massive mistake. I was young. Gareth told me if I keep doing well, keep performing well, I should get another opportunity,” Foden said on Tuesday.
“So I had to work really hard for that. Not many managers would give you another opportunity, so I have to thank Gareth a lot for giving me another opportunity.”
At club level, the 21-year-old has forced his way into Pep Guardiola’s selection on a regular basis with 16 goals and 10 assists as City won the Premier League and League Cup and reached the Champions League final for the first time.
But Foden hinted at a more personal approach from Southgate compared to the Catalan’s style with his players.
“I think they are really different. They have their own ways of playing,” he added.
“Gareth is great, he talks to everyone, lets you know how he’s feeling about you and how to improve.
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with him. He’s great to talk to, he’s always putting his arm round the players which is important.”
Luke Shaw was a rising star like Foden at his only previous major tournament at the 2014 World Cup.
Seven years on, the Manchester United left-back has overcome a series of injuries and a loss of form to get back to representing his country on the biggest stage.
And Shaw also praised Southgate for moulding a better team spirit compared to his previous experience at international level.
“When I first came back into this camp, the first thing I said to my girlfriend when I got home was how close the group are,” said Shaw. “I hadn’t experienced that for a while. When I was in the England squads, when I was a bit younger, it didn’t feel as close as it is now.
“Gareth is unbelievable and has been really good with me. He’s given me the opportunity.
“He’s really good around the place. I think he knows exactly what people need, what players need, and I feel like he’s starting to understand what’s the best for England.”
The Three Lions are one of the favourites to win the European Championship for the first time.
Southgate’s men begin their campaign at home to Croatia on June 14 before facing Scotland and the Czech Republic in Group D.