England's Ben Chilwell admits he had to hold back the smiles throughout Tuesday night, before he ran onto the pitch for his senior debut at the King Power Stadium.
The Leicester City defender came on to a rapturous reception on his home ground in the second half of the Three Lions’ victory over Switzerland, after joining Gareth Southgate’s squad from the U21s on Sunday.
- Kick It Out International
- Tuesday 11 September
- King Power Stadium, Leicester City FC
- Live on Sky Sports
And the 21-year-old admits that he had to keep his “game face” on throughout the night, even when warming up on the sidelines in the first half.
“It’s been a massive night for myself and my family,” said Chilwell.
“Getting that nod off Gareth to come on and play was a massive thing for me and it all happening at the King Power Stadium was a dream come true.
“He [Southgate] said ‘you deserve this, you’ve been playing well for your club and just do what you’ve been doing for Leicester' and all the boys on the bench said the same thing.
“I’ve been here since I was 12 so to come on in front of the home fans was amazing and to get a win as well.
“Even when I was warming up, me and Demmy [Demarai Gray] got a good ovation and coming on, you try not to smile and try to keep your game face.
“But when I came on the pitch, I was focused on the game so I didn’t really notice [the reception] too much.
“I’ve been told the crowd were brilliant when I came on, so I’ve got to thank them for that.”
Chilwell has been an England regular at every level from U18 upwards, when he made his first appearances for the Young Lions back in 2014.
And with many of the players that he’s grown up with through the international ranks also now forming Southgate’s young squad, he admits he’s just delighted to be a part of it.
“It’s great to be part of what Gareth is trying to instill in the squad and it was a great night all round,” added Chilwell, who revealed he’ll celebrate his first cap with a meal out with his parents and friends on Wednesday before returning to training with Leicester on Thursday.
“The summer has proved that English football is powerful and there’s not a better time to be involved in the senior set up.
“Getting the call to come up was something I was really excited about and with a squad that’s so young and fresh, it’s exciting.
“I just wanted to do as well as possible to keep the team doing well.”