Jadon Sancho eager to make mark for England after lighting up Bundesliga

Simon Peach 11/10/2018
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Jadon Sancho says being called up by England is the “biggest thing that could ever happen to a young kid” and pledged to make his mark on football like Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic has.

Fresh from signing a new and improved deal until 2022, manager Gareth Southgate doubled down on his focus on youth with his squad selection for the upcoming Nations League double-header away to Croatia and Spain.

Sancho was perhaps the most eye-catching inclusion, with his promising performances in Germany seeing him become the first player born this millennium to be called up by the senior team.

The 18-year-old is reaping the rewards of taking the path less followed, having made the courageous – if at the time slightly controversial – move from Manchester City to Dortmund last summer.

Sancho said: “It means a lot to me, especially my family. When I was a young kid, I always dreamed of obviously playing for my country. That’s the biggest thing that could ever happen to a young kid like me.

“It would be a dream come true (to make my debut against Croatia). I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

“Obviously I just have to keep on working hard in training and see what the manager does.”

Sancho seemed a little taken aback by the media interest at St George’s Park, but not quite as much as when the call came in from Southgate rather than England Under-21s boss Aidy Boothroyd.

“I was a bit surprised, to be fair, because obviously I’m so young so I have still got a lot to learn,” he said with a smile.

“I’m just grateful that he’s seeing my progress in the Bundesliga and very thankful.”

Sancho politely declined to talk about leaving Pep Guardiola‘s City but was forthcoming when it came to life in Germany, expressing gratitude to the Dortmund fans and head coach Lucien Favre.

The teenager is slowly learning German but adaptation to life on the field has been rapid, thanks in no small part to their trust in young players – and advice from the likes of team-mate Pulisic.

“Obviously Christian Pulisic is another young guy, and I learn from him all the time,” Sancho said of the United States international.

“His confidence to just take on players – no matter like whether there are four or five guys around him, he still tries.

“That’s what he tells me off the pitch, ‘you’ve just got to do your thing, that’s why you’re here – you’ve got to make everyone understand you’re Jadon Sancho’. That’s what he said to me.”

Playing alongside the likes of Pulisic, Mario Gotze and Marco Reus makes Sancho “more grounded”, while living with his dad in Dortmund also helps.

The attacking midfielder’s performances have recently been rewarded with a contract extension with the German giants until 2022 but living abroad has brought challenges.

Sancho said: “Obviously moving from home, that was the biggest. Leaving my mum behind and my sisters. I miss them a lot, but I want to do what’s best for me and felt like moving to Germany was the best thing.”

Sancho’s transfer from Watford to City helped prepare him for the mental leap to Germany – a move abroad he would recommend to like-minded players.

There were nerves at first, but Sancho soon settled into life at Dortmund and the number seven shirt vacated by Ousmane Dembele when he joined Barcelona.

Playing for England brings new pressures, though, and his performances have seen a £100million price tag to be mentioned.

“That’s mad!” Sancho said with a laugh when told of that figure. “Woah!

“That’s… I don’t know… I don’t know what to say to that.”

Asked if he felt he would play club football in England again, he said: “I don’t know. It’s the future. You never know what could happen, so we wait and see.”

For now, his focus is on international matters.

Sancho already has a World Cup winners’ medal to his name – even though he had to watch last year’s under-17 final on an internet stream after being called back from India by Dortmund.

Earlier that summer the attacking midfielder won player of the tournament as Steve Cooper’s Young Lions reached the Under-17 European Championship final and the teenager believes that was a “very special group”.

“The growth in England at the moment is crazy,” Sancho added. “There’s a lot of great young players out there.”

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Italy boss Roberto Mancini admits they need to be more clinical after Ukraine draw

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Italy are now winless in their last five home games after drawing with Ukraine.

Italy boss Roberto Mancini admitted his team must be more clinical after allowing Ukraine to fight back and earn a 1-1 draw on an emotional night at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s friendly, a wreath had been laid at the Ponte Morandi, where 43 people were killed in August, with the message ‘The Azzurri with Genoa in their hearts’.

Just before the interval at Sampdoria’s home ground, where Mancini had spent the majority of his playing career, there was a break in play for everyone to pay their respects to those who lost their lives, with applause.

Italy should already have been well in control at half-time but found Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov in fine form.

Somewhat ironically, it took a fumble by Pyatov early in the second half for the Azzurri to finally break the deadlock when Federico Bernardeschi’s speculative 20-yard shot squirmed over the line.

Ukraine, though, hit back and were level just after the hour when Ruslan Malinovsky hooked the ball in following a corner.

The visitors could have gone on to win the match, Malinovsky seeing a free-kick touched onto the crossbar by AC Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who also then saved at point-blank range from Ukraine substitute Taras Stepanenko.

The Azzurri are now winless in the last five home matches, and will resume their Nations League campaign away to Poland on Sunday.

Mancini is expecting a much-improved display.

“There is regret for the result. In reality it does not tell us enough, tonight we deserved to make another couple of goals,” the Italy manager said at a press conference.

“Now we have to improve on this aspect and continue on this path.”

Mancini added: “We have to be more incisive, when many chances are created, you have to score goals.

“When you change four or five players the team can lose a bit of togetherness, but the guys produced some good attacking actions and even in the second half, we still created some chances.

“The positive thing is that overall the team played good football for long spells.

“This was a friendly, now we have four days to recover and then in Poland we will try to do our best.”

On the tributes to those who died in the Ponte Morandi collapse, Mancini said: “It was a touching moment and an important one for the victims of this horrible accident.

“Being the Italy coach in my old stadium was particularly moving for me.”

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See what Man City and Brazil goalkeeper Ederson has said about Saudi Arabia visit

David Cooper 10/10/2018
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Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has declared the Brazil players “must respect” Saudi Arabian customs during their trip to the Kingdom.

The Canarinho are set to play hosts Saudi Arabia on Friday and bitter rivals Argentina next Tuesday.They will first run-out at Riyadh’s King Saud University Stadium, before travelling to Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City.

Watch Ederson’s reply below when quizzed about the imminent matches:

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