Ben Gibson like a 'kid at Christmas' on England duty

Monday 06 Oct 2014
Ben Gibson admits he loves being with the Under-21s on international duty
Ben Gibson says he feels like a "kid at Christmas" after joining up with the England Under-21s squad ahead of their play-off showdown with Croatia.

The Middlesbrough defender heads into the clash brimming with confidence with his side flying high in the Championship, and with a "high-pressured" double header now on the horizon for the Young Lions, the 21-year-old is "relishing" the test ahead.

England U21s v Croatia U21s

UEFA Euro U21 Championship
Play-off first leg
5.45pm, Friday 10 October 2014
Molineux, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Live on BT Sport
Call 0871 222 1877 for tickets


Gibson was an unused sub for his side's 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, and afterwards he spoke to about the decisive nine days ahead. 

"I'm still like a little kid at Christmas to be honest," he admitted. "I was talking to Cauley [Woodrow] who was on Fulham's bench, and I can't wait to meet up and work with the lads this week. 

"They're a real good bunch, all the staff are fantastic and I can't wait for this week. It's not just the banter and fun, the training is brilliant. The standard is really high and it brings out the best in me."

The Middlesbrough-born youngster has been a regular in Gareth Southgate's Young Lions squad as they finished top of their qualifying group, and although he says he is starting to feel like he is establishing himself at international level, he knows everything previous will have been for nothing unless he and his team-mates can topple Croatia.

"I feel a little bit [like being a squad regular], but you can never take your place for granted.

"You're playing with and competing against the best players this age in the country, so I'm delighted again to be called up and it's something myself and my family are really proud of.

"I've made no bones about it, I love being part of it and enjoyed every minute I've been involved - long may it continue."

England Under-21s defender Ben Gibson.

Gibson has previously played for the Three Lions at U16 and U17 level


He added: "It all boils down to this, two massive games that are high-pressured. We have to get through and make sure we are at the tournament next summer.

"We are going out to win both games and it's a really exciting week.

"For me personally, I learn every day whether I'm with England or Boro. I'm learning a lot, and I've got to keep making myself a better player if I'm to get where I want to be in my career. 

"To have this opportunity to play with these players, and with some of them having already played in the senior squad, it's something I relish."

And Gibson is coming into the Young Lions camp in confident mood. After their victory on Saturday, Middlesbrough sit one point off top spot in the league, and achieving promotion is one of two targets the former York City and Tranmere Rovers loanee wants to achieve this campaign.

"The club is flying and the start to this season has been brilliant to be part of. We have a great squad and you can see how together everyone is," he said.

"Even the subs are as happy as those on the pitch when we score. There's a real togetherness and we're united. 

“We feel we can really achieve something this season and it's about time this club got back in the Premier League where we belong.

"That's what it's all about. We need to get this team back in the top flight.

He added: "Now I'm back on international duty, my focus turns to this and we all feel we need to get into the Euros - and then be successful when we get out there."

Tickets for Friday's game at Molieux cost just £10 for adults and £5 for juniors, so call 0871 222 1877 or click here to purchase.

By Gary Stonehouse Staff Writer