Published 09 June 2021 3 min read
England Men's Senior Team
Three Lions new boy reflects on his rise to the senior squad and those who've helped along the way
Ben White has paid tribute to his parents, particularly his mum Carole, for the part they played in his early career and setting him on the path to becoming an England international.
The 23 year old was called into Gareth Southgate’s final squad as a replacement for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold after two stellar displays against Austria and Romania and an impressive season for Brighton & Hove Albion.
The versatile defender joined the Seagulls back in 2014 but revealed that his mum played a massive part in getting him there after he was released by Southampton as a 16 year old.
And naturally she was the first person White shared the news with when he found out he’d made the final cut for UEFA EURO 2020.
“It’s all down to my mum and dad and I definitely wouldn’t be here now if they hadn’t helped me out along the way,” he said.
“The day I got released my mum said to me ‘do you want to be a footballer?’ and I said ‘yeah’ and then she managed to get me some trials at different places.
“I gave her a ring straight away and she was crying down the phone - it was an unbelievable moment.
“She’s obviously so happy for me and has seen how hard I’ve worked. So to see it all pay off now is exactly what she wants."
White’s journey to Southgate’s squad wasn’t the most straightforward path and after making his debut for his parent club in 2016, he headed out on loan spells to Newport County in League Two and then Peterborough United in League One.
For the 2019-20 season he joined Leeds United and was instrumental in their promotion to the Premier League, after which he returned to Brighton to feature 36 times in the top flight last season.
Managers Graham Potter, Marcelo Bielsa and now Gareth Southgate will all have had an influence on his rapid rise, but White believes his development began a long time before he’d ever met those figures.
“Going to Leeds, I didn’t expect to play as much as I did so to get promoted as champions and play every minute was incredible," he added.
“But I wasn’t made last year. I’ve worked hard for ten years - it doesn’t suddenly just come in a year.
“I had two loans before I went to Leeds and played quite a few games there so that has helped me build and perform at the level that I’m at now.
“Each league I’ve played in, I’ve wondered if I could step up and year after year I’ve managed to do it so I think this is just another one of them.
“Everyone has their own stories and different pathways so I think it’s good to have different stories in the team.”
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