Already a World Cup winner, Phil Foden has gone from England outcast to one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s team sheet.
The Manchester City youngster has long been heralded as one of England’s most prodigious talents.
A very different midfielder to those usually produced in this country, Foden’s strengths lie in his dribbling, close control and the way in which he glides past opponents, which has seen many compare him to Paul Gascoigne.
Since 2017, a lot has been made about Pep Guardiola’s handling of Foden’s game-time, but in 2020/21 he filled the void left by David Silva by making more than 40 appearances in all competitions.
Planet Sport looks at Foden’s finest moments on his journey from emerging talent to world-class star.
World Cup winner
Big things had been expected of the immensely talented generation of English players born in 2000.
A squad that included the likes of Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Rhian Brewster travelled to India for the U-17 World Cup and returned home as winners, after a 5-2 victory over Spain in the final.
Foden scored twice in that game and received the Golden Ball trophy awarded to the player of the tournament.
Later that year, Foden’s summer heroics helped earn him the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
A record-breaking 2017/18 season
After being included in Manchester City’s squad for a pre-season tour of the United States, Foden was given a chance to impress in a Manchester derby.
Although United ran out 2-0 winners that day, Foden was a shining light and Pep Guardiola was keen to lavish praise on the then 17-year-old, saying: “It’s a long time since I saw something like this.
“His performance was another level. He’s 17 years old, he’s a City player, he grew up in the academy, he loves the club, he’s a City fan and for us he’s a gift.”
Foden continued to develop and break records as the season went on.
In a Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk he became the youngest English player to start in the competition, as well being the first player born in the year 2000 to feature in the tournament.
In the later rounds, he broke Kieran Richardson’s record of being the youngest English player to start a knockout match in the Champions League, before capping the season off by becoming the youngest player to receive a Premier League winners medal. Not a bad debut season.
Scoring goals and becoming a serial winner
Foden’s first goal for his boyhood club came in the Carabao Cup against Oxford United, with him having a hand in all three goals scored that night.
It was arguably the first time that Foden had really influenced a game, albeit against League One opposition.
Guardiola and U’s boss Karl Robinson lavished praise on Foden, only serving to raise expectations of a player who had limited first-team experience at the time.
Champions League and Premier League goals followed, with yet more records being broken in the process.
The 2018/19 season finished with a domestic treble for City, leaving Foden with six trophies from his first two seasons in senior soccer.
A Carabao Cup final man-of-the-match display
The 2019/20 season came with a further increase in game-time for Foden.
After scoring in the Community Shield penalty shootout win over Liverpool, he went on to make 38 appearances in all competitions.
His highlight came at Wembley, where he picked up the Alan Hardaker Trophy after a man-of-the-match display in the 2-1 Carabao Cup final victory over Aston Villa.
Foden was also an integral part of the England U-21 set-up after being selected in England’s 23-man squad for the 2019 Euros.
Fifteen caps for Aidy Boothroyd’s side later, Gareth Southgate decided it was time to call him up to the senior side.
England debut and goals
After making his international debut for England against Iceland in September 2020, Foden was sent home from the squad, along with Mason Greenwood, for breaking the team’s COVID-19 protocols.
Widespread criticism from the English media followed and Gareth Southgate left Foden out of his next squad selection before bringing him back into the group in November.
Foden then went some way to regaining his manager’s trust with two goals in the Nations League against Iceland.
More strong performances for the Three Lions have followed, with Foden now in a strong position for a starting berth when England open up their Euros campaign against Croatia on June 13.
Standout performances against Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund
The upwards trajectory of Foden’s career continued into the 2020/21 season.
A 4-1 win at Anfield in February felt like the day when Foden truly arrived on the world stage.
It was a big match in the context of the Premier League title race and the midfielder more than stepped up to the occasion, most notably with a thunderous strike for the fourth goal.
A couple of months later, with Manchester City still in search of an elusive Champions League title, Foden again delivered. With their quarter-final tie against Borussia Dortmund locked at 1-1, Foden scored in the dying seconds to give his side a crucial lead ahead of the reverse fixture in Germany.
The second leg began with another young English midfielder starring, but this time it was Jude Bellingham, whose goal put Dortmund in the driver's seat once again.
However, like at the Etihad, the game was decided by a late Foden goal, with the 20-year-old proving again he was capable of stepping up when it mattered most.