VIDEO: Alex surprised by U21s chance
by Jamie Bradbury
Tuesday, 08 February, 2011
Southampton's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain talks exclusively to TheFA.com.
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It was less than a year ago that a 16-year-old Academy graduate played his first League game for Southampton against Huddersfield Town and since then it seems the whole country wants to know more about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Son of former Portsmouth and England winger Mark Chamberlain, Alex joined the Saints aged seven and became their second youngest debutant, behind Theo Walcott, when he came from the bench at St Mary’s on 2 March 2010. He played one more time last season, but it’s this campaign that he’s really setting League One alight.
In his first appearance of the season he notched his first senior goal in a 2-0 League Cup win over south-coast rivals Bournemouth and he’s now made 33 appearances for Southampton – including an FA Cup Fourth Round tie against Manchester United – and scoring seven goals.
Added to that his first sniff of England honours when he featured in the U18s victory over Poland in November, it’s certainly been a whirlwind year for the Portsmouth born winger who was expected to line up in the U19s this week before getting a ‘surprise’ call-up to Stuart Pearce’s Under-21s.
And as the Three Lions prepare to face Italy in a very foggy Empoli in their first match of an important year, the likeable 17-year-old is enjoying the latest step in his promising career.
“I’m delighted to have the call-up, I wasn’t really expecting it so it came as a big surprise. To get to the 21s was a target of mine but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly so I’m really pleased,” he told TheFA.com.
“I watch a lot of the boys on Match of the Day highlights every week, so I was a bit apprehensive maybe coming into it but they all seem like really good lads, they’ve all been really friendly. It’s quite relaxed and chilled out so it’s been good.”
He continued: “I didn’t think I’d get into the first team at Southampton as quick as I did so that was a bit of a shock. But I’ve got in there and have been working really hard all year to try and keep my place and try to make myself a better player.
“With everything that’s gone on I’ve really tried to take it all in my stride, just train as hard as I can, play as hard as I can and see where that takes me. At the moment it’s going well for me.
“When I first started to play I was a bit nervous, it was quite nerve-wracking playing in front of 25,000 people week in, week out. But I’ve got used to it now and I’m just enjoying my football. I’m comfortable with all the lads down there, they are all really supportive, the manager is really supportive of me and so are the fans. It’s a really good experience and I enjoy it loads.”
Chamberlain is just the latest in a line of talented players to have come through the Southampton production line. The likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Nathan Dyer were there from a young age, while Leon Best, Dexter Blackstock and David McGoldrick were brought in later down the line to bolster the youth teams’ attacking potential.
And the winger has nothing but good things to say about the club who nurtured all that talent.
“The facilities down in Southampton are really good,” he said. “They are top-drawer, as good as it gets facility-wise and they should be up there in the Prem.
“They have good coaching staff, they are always trying to push the young players into the first team and you always have a lot of youth team boys training with the first team.
He added: “I’ve been at Southampton since I was seven, and from a young age they get you on the ball working on your technique and that gives you the ability that you need when you get older when you learn about the game tactically and positionally.
“They bring players up in the right way and that’s been proved where they’ve brought through Theo, Gareth and some other really good players.”
To watch the full interview watch the live stream of Italy v England from 1.45pm on Tuesday.
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Marc Albrighton (Aston Villa), Jack Cork (Burnley - loan from Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton), Henri Lansbury (Norwich City - loan from Arsenal), Fabrice Muamba (Bolton Wanderers), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Scott Sinclair (Swansea City), Josh McEachran (Chelsea), Jon Howson (Leeds United)
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