Tammy Abraham believes Aston Villa’s must-win promotion push was the perfect preparation for Euro 2019.
The striker helped Villa to a dramatic return to the Premier League last season after their stunning late form catapulted them into the Championship play-offs.
Villa won a club record 10 straight games between March and April to gatecrash the play-offs before beating Derby 2-1 in the final to return to the top flight after three years.
Abraham, who scored 26 times while on loan from Chelsea, is now in Italy ready for Euro 2019 with England Under-21s but is already tuned into a winning mentality.
He said: “Absolutely. In the second half of the season we knew we had to win almost every game to have a chance so we went out to every training session up for it.
“There were times I nearly gave up but Jack Grealish would be in my ear telling me to keep going.
“When he was injured he used to phone me telling me to keep it going for him until he got back because he believed he had a chance.
“In January all the Wolves stuff (transfer talk) came out and it was something I looked at but I am so pleased I stuck with my gut instinct.
“Our attitude near the end was ‘If we all turn up nobody else can beat us.’ That is the mentality we need to show out here.
“We need to impose that fear factor on others, make them frightened of us and leave everything on the pitch.”
The 21-year-old also feels he has proved himself again after a disappointing spell at Swansea in 2017/18 when they were relegated from the Premier League.
“Obviously I want to be in the Premier League but things happen in football and after getting relegated with Swansea I had to pick myself up,” he said.
“People were asking if I could do it again in the Championship and I have answered them. I believe in myself, I provided goals and rebuilt my confidence as well.
England face France in their Group C opener in Cesena on Tuesday aiming to go a step further than two years ago.
Abraham was part of the squad in Poland and missed from the spot in the 4-3 semi-final shootout defeat to Germany.
But he will step up again if required even though the miss still plays on his mind.
He said: “Yes, it still hurts but I’ll take it because that’s what makes you who are and gives you the experience you need to move forward. I now know what to expect.
“For me as a striker I will always put myself in that position. I back myself to score every time even though I know realistically I will not score every time.
“It was the first time I had taken a penalty in an international competition and it was a nerve-racking moment.
“But if the situation comes around again I’ll be putting my name up to be one of the five takers.
“I’ve now got that experience and since then I have taken some big penalties for Aston Villa. So I know what the pressure of taking a penalty is like.”
Jorginho has claimed he almost quit football as a youngster after discovering he was being short-changed.
The Italy midfielder was the main recruit in Maurizio Sarri’s short-lived Chelsea tenure, the £57million signing often a lightning rod for fan criticism in his first Stamford Bridge campaign.
Jorginho formed the bedrock of Chelsea’s third-place finish and Europa League triumph however, in what ultimately proved a profitable first campaign in west London.
The Brazil-born 27-year-old might never have represented either Italy or Chelsea however, had he given up when living on just 20 Euros a week after alleging an agent was keeping a percentage of his pay.
“Because Verona weren’t in Serie A at that time, they didn’t have a youth team so I played in a local youth team called Berretti,” Jorginho explained, of his move from Brazil to Europe aged just 15, in an interview on Chelsea’s official website.
“They played in Serie C1/C2. I did that for two years. Whilst I was playing for Berretti, I met a fellow Brazilian called Rafael who was a goalkeeper.
“I got friendly with him. He was asking me about what I was doing, how long I had been there for, and I told him I was living on 20 Euros a week.
“He said ‘hang on a minute, there’s something not quite right about that’.
“He made some enquiries and it turned out my agent had been taking money and I knew nothing about it whatsoever.”
On discovering the situation, Jorginho admitted he very nearly quit football entirely – only to be talked round by his mother.
“At that point I wanted to give up. I was completely devastated. I was fed up,” Jorginho added.
“I phoned home in tears and told my mum I wanted to come home and I didn’t want to play football any more.
“She said: ‘Don’t even think about it! You’re so close, you’ve been there for a few years, I won’t let you back in the house! You need to stay there and hang tough.’
“So I stayed. I continued to train with the first team.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
Chelsea are expected to seek talks with Derby over a deal to install Frank Lampard as the next Blues manager.
Derby are understood to be braced for Chelsea to make contact, with Lampard the front-runner to replace Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge.
Juventus are poised to confirm Sarri as their new boss on a three-year deal, with Chelsea having secured a compensation package it is understood could rise as high as £10million.
Lampard notched a club-record 211 goals in a stellar Chelsea career from 2001 to 2014, and racked up 106 caps for England.
The 40-year-old has had just one year in management, but steered Derby to the Championship play-offs in his sole campaign.
Lampard’s assistant Jody Morris could also make a return to his former club, to bolster the Blues’ backroom staff.
Derby could hold out for £4million to hand Chelsea the green light for talks with Lampard, but the Blues would likely be unfazed given their impressive return on the severance package with Juventus over Sarri.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to return to the club in a technical director role too, which would prove popular with the fans and a good fit given the Czech stopper was long-term team-mates with Lampard.
Chelsea have appealed their two-window transfer ban with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but crucially have not asked for a freezing of that embargo pending the hearing, which is yet to be scheduled.
Lampard spent some time behind the scenes at Chelsea when completing his coaching badges, so still retains detailed knowledge of the Stamford Bridge set-up.
The goal-scoring midfielder would be well placed to work with Chelsea’s crop of talented youngsters then, who would likely be handed extra first-team chances should that transfer ban be enforced.
Former Napoli boss Sarri led Chelsea to the Europa League title, a third-place Premier League finish and the Carabao Cup final in his only season at Chelsea.
The former investment banker failed to win over the Chelsea fans however, who were frustrated by his regimented tactics and his apparent early reluctance to hand central roles to homegrown talents Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Juventus believe Sarri’s taskmaster approach will prove the perfect follow-up after Massimiliano Allegri’s departure.
Allegri had appeared on the initial list of candidates to replace Sarri at Chelsea, but has now insisted he will take a break from management, effectively ruling himself out of the Stamford Bridge running.
Cristiano Ronaldo is understood to have given his blessing for Sarri to succeed Allegri at Juventus.
The Portugal star appeared to look favourably on the way in which Sarri tried to build his Chelsea team around Eden Hazard, and considers the 60-year-old’s tactics well suited to Serie A.
Provided by Press Association Sport