Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold says his decision to snub England Under 19s last summer has been vindicated by his rise into Gareth Southgate’s squad.
It caps off a brilliant season at Anfield in which he established himself as first-choice right back, playing a key role in the run to the Champions League final.
And after making his senior international debut against Costa Rica on Thursday, the 19-year-old wants to play in the World Cup after his shock selection.
Trent Alexander-Arnold made his senior England debut in last week’s game against Costa Rica
Alexander-Arnold looked back on his pivotal decision to start pre-season at Liverpool instead of heading to Georgia for England’s triumphant U19 European Championship campaign under Keith Downing.
‘I had been involved heavily with the U19s throughout the season and I think I always wanted to go, but it was a difficult decision for me, my family and the club.
‘But I wanted to focus on becoming first-choice right back at Liverpool and then push on from there.
‘The U19s tournament cut into a bit of pre-season time that I thought was valuable.
Alexander-Arnold’s productive pre-season at Liverpool paid off as he had a successful year
‘I needed to be in and around the Liverpool team to show the manager that I was still improving and still had the hunger to get better every day.
TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD’S ENGLAND RECORD
U16s – Six caps
U17s – 11 caps
U18s – Two caps
U19s – 10 caps
U21s – Three caps
Senior – One cap
‘One of club or country had to be sacrificed at the time. The FA was really understanding about it and I knew that they wouldn’t hold a grudge against me.’
The prospect of playing at the World Cup gave Alexander-Arnold the perfect pick-me-up after defeat by Real Madrid in Kiev.
Indeed, the full back hit the ground running as he reported for England duty — hitting a wonder goal in his first training session.
He recalled: ‘I just hit it, I didn’t think anyone would see it. I didn’t think the FA would put it out.
‘A few months ago I wouldn’t have shot, I would have passed to someone else. I have probably got the confidence now to do it and that’s important.
‘I want to go to Russia and play and I will try every day in training to show the manager that I am good enough to play and hopefully work my way into the team,’ he said.