VIDEO: Early Days with Chamberlain
Jamie Bradbury in Colchester
Thursday, 10 November, 2011
Three Lions winger looks back at when he came through the ranks.
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Watch the FATV Early Days video with England Under-21s winger Alex Oxlade Chamerlain
As he prepares to face Iceland, the team he scored a hat-trick against last month, England Under-21s winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looks back on his early days as a player, coming through the ranks at Southampton.
Chamberlain and his Three Lions team take on the Icelandics in front of a sell-out crowd at Colchester United on Thursday night, in what will be their fourth European Under-21s Championship Qualifier, looking to maintain a 100% record this season.
The pacy Arsenal man was just seven when he joined the Saints academy and made his first team debut at 16 years as a substitute in a 5–0 victory over Huddersfield Town.
Having already figured for England's U18s and U19s, he made his Under-21s debut in February 2011 away against Italy, then in August joined the Gunners.
FATV: When did you get scouted?
AOC: I wasn’t really scouted, I was seven and my day asked me to come down and train with Southampton, as he was a coach there. Was a bit of a cheat really!
FATV: Was it daunting training with the first team?
AOC: It was a bit daunting, as you have to win over the respect of the other lads and the manager, who you want to impress. The banter at Southampton was unbelievable, and it was really hard leaving that. Leaving the club was hard because of how much they did for me. But the changing room antics were unbelievable.
FATV: Can you remember your debut?
AOC: I was training with the youth team and the manager came over to me and said ‘you’re not training with us today’, and I thought he was dropping me. He said, ‘no, the gaffer’s (Alan Pardew) called you up and you’re in the first team tonight. The under-18s manager said he thought I was just going to be in the squad for the experience, so I wasn;t expecting anything more than that.
I went down to the stadium thinking I’d just be in the squad, but the manager came up and said, ‘I’m going to put you on the bench tonight’. I rang everyone up, told my mum and dad and got everyone tickets. It was 5-0 with about 15 or 20 minutes to go and the boys started tapping me on the shoulder saying ‘you better get warmed up, you’re coming on’.
The manager then turned round and said, ‘go get warmed up’, and I went on, made my debut. And missed a sitter!
FATV: Were you the best in your age-group?
AOC: I went through a stage form under-9s to under-12s and I was one of the top boys and highly-rated, but I went through a patch from under-12s to under-16s when I was one of the ones who was going to get released. Everyone shot up and I was still really small. But when it came to the under-18s I started to stamp my authority down again.
And after a hat-trick in Reykjavik last month, no doubt Chamberlain will be looking to stamp his authority on Iceland once more.
Watch the full interview with Alex, where he talks about the Under-21s and singing the 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' to the squad here on FATV.
We'll bring you all the latest updates for the England Under-21s squad here or via www.twitter.com/thefadotcom