Tyrone Mings: The next challenge is to become an England starter
'There was never a time when I thought that England was done'
This rollercoaster of a season feels like the longest of Tyrone Mings’ career. But even when he found himself out of Aston Villa’s squad, the defender never thought his time with England was over and has now set himself the challenge of becoming a starter for the Three Lions.
Last summer proved one of the most challenging of Mings’ career, as he lost his place in the England squad and then the Aston Villa captaincy, after Steven Gerrard opted to replace him with John McGinn.
With Gareth Southgate providing opportunities to younger defenders such as Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi, plus Eric Dier earning a recall and the likes of Levi Colwill emerging, some supporters questioned whether Mings’ time with England might have been over.
But Aston Villa’s appointment of Unai Emery in late October revolutionised not only the club’s season but also that of Mings.
The 30-year-old excelled as Villa went from being three points above the relegation zone when Emery arrived to securing European football for the first time in 13 years after they booked a spot in next season’s Europa Conference League on the final day of the Premier League season.
Inside Training | England
The England men's senior team players are back together ahead of the matches with Malta and North Macedonia
And Mings’ outstanding 2023 continued when he was recalled by Gareth Southgate for England’s UEFA EURO 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia in the coming days.
Mings stated being back at St. George’s Park with England was ‘a big honour’ but believes his recall was a reflection of how well he has played this season.
But he isn’t here to make up the numbers; Mings wants to become a regular starter for England.
He said: “The big challenge when you're obviously in this environment is the competition is so strong, which is only a good thing for the strength of the team. But then I also have the confidence in myself to try to take myself from kind of being a fringe player to a starter.
“So that is the next challenge and obviously to do that you've got to get back in the squad and you've got to prove yourself every time you get the chance to play, in training and what you're doing for your club as well.
“A lot of things obviously contribute to being here and getting the opportunity but no, there was never a time when I thought that England was done.”
Mings’ footballing journey is an inspiring one.
In his own words, he comes from ‘humble beginnings’, having lived in a homeless shelter for a year growing up, and after being released by Southampton at 15, he worked as a mortgage advisor and in a pub while playing non-league football at Yate Town and Chippenham Town.
After being given his big break by Ipswich Town in December 2012, Mings has gone on to become a Premier League captain and was a mainstay in England squads in recent years.
The 2022-23 season campaign may have started out badly for Mings, which contributed to him missing out on the FIFA World Cup, but he is on the verge of playing European club football for the first time and is back in the England squad.
Vibing 😊 pic.twitter.com/IoOOOxwB8j— England (@England) June 12, 2023
Mings said: “It feels like the longest season ever, from being left out of the Villa squad, to losing the captaincy, to not playing the first game of the season, to going through a managerial change, then breaking for the World Cup and then kind of playing the consistent football that we played in the second half of the season and qualifying for Europe – it seems like everything has happened in the space of 12 months!
“But I look back with real fondness at how the season has gone and obviously hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I wouldn't have said anything different if we had finished eighth rather than seventh and not qualified for Europe because I think the progression that we've made, and the progress that I've made as a player, has been really impressive and kind of incremental.
“It was maybe not as surprising to us at the training ground than it maybe has been to other people, just how far we've come, because we're there every day and see the manager's thoughts and stuff. But I look back with great fondness at how the season has gone and hope for more for next year.”
Mings may have turned 30 in March, but he has shown you can always learn more at the highest level.
We asked him what has changed this season and what parts of his game he felt had improved under Emery.
He said: “I’m way calmer; way calmer in kind of my positioning, way more disciplined in the decisions that I make, and that comes from really understanding the game and understanding the position more and understanding that there's a reason for every decision that you make on the pitch. That level of understanding of the game has helped me no end.
“But I think if people were looking at my game now compared to 12 months ago, they'd probably say that the on-the-ball stuff and stuff has been the biggest change and the biggest improvement. That again comes from just being a lot calmer and making better decisions probably.”
So what brought about the change?
“The manager,” Mings replied. “The manager teaching us different things and when you know more you can look for more on the pitch, look for different passing options, knowing that players are going to be available when you get the ball, knowing what you're looking for before you get the ball.
“Just slowing down my mind and my thought processes on the pitch has definitely allowed me to be a lot calmer.”
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