Eberechi Eze: England call-up is just reward for Crystal Palace star after battling through adversity
Eberechi Eze would probably prefer not to have taken such a tour of London’s clubs at this still early stage of his career, Millwall, Arsenal and Fulham among four sides to release the youngster who on Wednesday earned a first call-up to the senior England side.
Then again, adversity has grown to be such a central part of the Eze story that perhaps the midfielder would not have blossomed so spectacularly without it.
The Crystal Palace star, who got his big break and then his big move after finally being backed to make it by QPR, had been knocking on the door of Gareth Southgate’s squad at the back end of the 2020/21 campaign, only to rupture his Achilles.
The story goes that immediately after suffering the injury, he returned to the dressing room at Palace’s training ground to find a message on his phone informing him that he would be part of England’s pre-Euros training camp.
It has taken the best part of two years and the return to Palace of one of Southgate’s England predecessors, Roy Hodgson, for Eze to rediscover his sparkle, the 24-year-old having scored six times in his last eight games.
“He's finished the season really strongly,” Southgate said. “He can play in a couple of positions across that attacking line, he's a goal threat, he's got nice ability and a burst of speed to go past people and to take people out of the game with dribbling skills.
"We're looking forward to seeing him a bit closer and everybody I speak to talks brilliantly about him as a person as well.”
Competition for places in attacking midfield and wide areas remains rife with England, but a debut against modest opposition in Malta and North Macedonia should be on the cards for Eze. After such a roundabout journey, it would be just reward.