Lewis Baker has been named England U20s captain for Friday's fixture against Romania – and the youngster says he is thrilled to have been handed the armband.
The highly-rated Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a phenomenal season last term, scoring 23 goals for the Stamford Bridge club on the way to the U21 Premier League crown – including the winning goal in the play-off final against Manchester United.
England v Romania
U20 international match
7.30pm, Friday 5 September 2014
New Bucks Head Stadium, AFC Telford United
Call 01952 640064 for tickets
And as England U20s prepare to take on Romania at Telford on Friday evening, head coach Aidy Boothroyd has handed Baker the captain’s armband.
“The manager told me a little bit earlier today," he said. "It’s a great achievement and it’s something I’m very proud to do.
“When I lead my country out it will be an amazing feeling. Although I’ve worn the armband before, it was after the starting captain was substituted so it will be the first time I have ever done that with an England team.
“It will be an amazing feeling and something I am very excited about.”
Baker's stunning goal against Arsenal caught the headlines last season
Baker said: “I worked with Aidy last season with the U19s and he’s a great coach, great person, and his training sessions have been really enjoyable.
"He wants us to play good football and he has faith in us that we can play – and we’re determined to go out there and get the win for him.”
Chelsea’s first-team boss Jose Mourinho has also been complimentary of his midfielder.
In July the Portuguese said Baker is good enough to go to the top and pledged to do his bit to guide him there.
He also promised that if the youngster was not playing senior international football in a few years, he would blame himself.
“It’s a huge compliment, but it’s not just down to him," Baker added.
"It’s down to me and how hard I work – the effort I put in, and my performances on the pitch. I have to make sure I grasp the opportunities as and when they are given to me.”
Mourinho has already given Baker opportunities in Chelsea's first team.
After making his professional debut as a late substitute in The FA Cup Third Round tie against Derby in January this year, he was named on the bench for the crucial trip to Liverpool at Anfield in April.
Baker said: "If I work hard I'm confident my opportunities will come. I just want to carry on playing my football, enjoying my football and doing what I know I can do.
And what of his influences outside the professional game? The young midfielder, who joined Chelsea from hometown club Luton Town at the age of nine, comes from a sporting background – which he says has been a big help as he continues his journey through the ranks.
“My dad, Audley, has been a huge influence on my career so far. No matter how good or badly I play he will always tell me the truth and keep pushing me to be the best I possibly can be. He is always there for me and no matter what I have always been able to depend on him.
“He is sporting himself. He was a powerlifter and was six-times world champion – so I think him having that understanding into competing professionally has definitely helped me growing up.”
But for now he insists he just wants to focus on the task in hand – getting his England U20 career off to a winning start.
"Being captain is one thing but when I go out onto the pitch I have to perform. I have to continue to give 110 per cent in every game and lead by example," he continued.
“We’ve been working hard all week with Aidy and his team so it’s important we all focus on performing to the best of our ability against Romania.
“There’s some great talent in this group and we’re all very much looking forward to the game.”
England U20 squad to play Romania
Goalkeepers: Christy Pym (Exeter City), Christian Walton (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Defenders: Dominic Ball (Tottenham Hotspur), Shay Facey (Manchester City), Lloyd Jones (Liverpool), Fankaty Dabo (Chelsea), Isaac Hayden (Arsenal), Matt Targett (Southampton)
Midfielders: Paul Digby (Barnsley), Lewis Baker (Chelsea), Ben Pearson (Manchester United)*, John Swift (Rotherham, on loan from Chelsea), Harrison Reed (Southampton), Matty Grimes (Exeter City).
Forwards: Josh Murphy (Norwich City), Callum Robinson (Aston Villa), Jordon Ibe (Liverpool), Rolando Aarons (Newcastle United), Chuba Akpom (Arsenal), Chris Long (Everton), Kwame Thomas (Derby County), Josh Harrop (Manchester United)^.
* Replaces Diego Poyet (West Ham United),
** Replaces James Wilson (Manchester United)
^ Replaces Adam Campbell (Newcastle United)
Tickets for the game cost £3 and £1.50 and can be purchased at the ticket office at the New Bucks Head Stadium, by calling 01952 640064 or clicking here.
And if you're a booking for a group or from a Charter Standard club or league, you can get tickets for even less!