Gibson loving England life on international return

Saturday 31 May 2014
Ben Gibson has started in three games in the Toulon Tournament
Ben Gibson says he wants to keep his place in the England Under-21s squad next season – by spearheading a promotion charge with Middlesbrough in the Championship.

The central defender has enjoyed a return to international football over the last two weeks, following his call-up to Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euro qualifier against Wales and subsequent Toulon Tournament in France.

Portugal v England

The Toulon Tournament
Third-fourth place play-off
3pm, Sunday 1 June 2014
Parc des Sports, Avignon
Live on BT Sport


That was his first international call-up in over three years after previously being capped at U18 and U17 level, most recently in February 2011 for an U18s game in Italy.

And now he’s had another taste of it, the 21-year-old is keen to stake his claim for a regular spot in the Three Lions squad as they aim to reach next summer’s Euro Finals in Czech Republic.

"I’ve loved every minute of it, to be honest, playing with the best players in my age group and against better quality opposition," Gibson told

"I’ve learnt a lot working with the staff and it’s been something that I’ve really enjoyed doing and I want to strive to do more of.

"The lads and staff have been brilliant and made it really easy for me to come back into the England set-up.

"The manager was the first person I saw when I walked through the door so he was quick to show me around and introduce me to everyone.

"I was lucky enough to know a few of the lads from before and have maintained friendships with them since day one.

"So I can’t thank everyone enough for that as I’ve fitted in smoothly."

Ben Gibson wins an attacking header against Colombia in the Toulon Tournament

Gibson in an attacking role for England against Colombia


Gibson’s England call-up came after he caught Southgate’s eye with his performances for Boro in the second half of last season.

And after helping England into Sunday's Toulon Tournament third-fourth place play-off with a string of solid displays this week, he’s now hoping to take that momentum and form through to the next campaign with his club.

"I want to start next season as the number one centre-half and play a full season there and hopefully achieve promotion with Boro," he added.

"That’s what we’re looking to do and there’s a long season ahead of us, but if I can start well and we can carry on in the fashion that we ended last season, there’s no reason why we can’t do that.

"We’ve got a good manager and good players so I’m hopeful that we can do that."

Gibson is one of the most experienced members of the squad out in Toulon, having played regular first team football for the last three seasons at a variety of levels.

After being part of the England U17s squad which lifted the Euro title in 2010, he has spent time honing his trade during loan spells with Plymouth Argyle and York City, where he was a double Wembley winner in The FA Trophy and Conference play-off final in 2012.

He then spent the majority of the 2012-13 campaign in League One with Tranmere Rovers before returning to the Riverside Stadium and staking his claim in the Championship this season.

"I’ve learned a lot from each loan spell and been really grateful of them," he explained. 

"I have been right down to the bottom really, by playing in the Conference, then down to what seemed like the other end of the world from Middlesbrough in Plymouth, and I learned a lot from both of them and then a full year at Tranmere.

"It’s stood me in good stead for now, both as a player and a person, and it has brought me on leaps and bounds as a player, all of those loan spells.

"It sped up my progression for the first team and what I’m doing now."

England face Portugal in Sunday’s play-off at 3pm (BST) in the Parc des Sports in Avignon, with the match being shown live on BT Sport.

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, France