It was late on Sunday evening when Sam Surridge was driving back to Dorset from Swansea, hoping to take advantage of a few days off and some family time.
As the 21-year-old was approaching home, the phone rang. When he saw Swansea City boss Steve Cooper calling, any initial surprise turned to shock when he was told the news that he’d been added to the Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21s squad.
“It was about 10.30pm on Sunday night when Coops called me and then Aidy called straight me after to give me the details,” he explained.
“I didn’t expect it at all, so it was nice. I was going home to see my dad and I told him as soon as I got in and he wasn’t expecting it either but he was over the moon.
“I then had to try and get everything sorted but luckily I had my passport on me because all my stuff is in Swansea.
“I didn’t think we’d be meeting up until Tuesday or Wednesday, but I got picked up at 8.30 on Monday, not really knowing what was in store so it was all quite surreal.
“It’s been a hectic two days, but I’ve loved it and it’s been a good feeling. I’ve never been in an England squad before, so it was completely out of the blue.”
Surridge is now firmly settled in with his new squad mates at St. George’s Park, as they prepare for a game in Slovenia on Friday before returning back to home turf for their next Euro Qualifier with Austria in Milton Keynes.
“It feels like I’ve fitted right in and the first game’s on Friday so I’m looking forward to that,” he added.
“Even just going away with England to Slovenia is a big thing for me. I’ve never been to Slovenia so I really don’t know what to expect, it’ll be a great experience.
“We want to get results and they must’ve brought me in not just for my development but obviously for a reason. If I can manage to get on the pitch, I can hopefully show what I can do.”
Experience is a word which Surridge often refers to, and it’s easy to see why when you look back at his career.
Born in Slough, before moving south to Dorset as a youngster, he’s been on the books of AFC Bournemouth since he was 14 and emerged through their youth ranks.
But he’s spent plenty of time away, enjoying loan spells with local non-League clubs Weymouth and Poole Town as a teenager before cutting his teeth in the EFL with Yeovil Town and OIdham Athletic, where he hit the headlines with a goal in their Emirates FA Cup victory over Fulham last season.
“It’s a stepping stone, and that’s what I’ve been told every time I go out on loan, you’ve got to prove yourself,” he explained.
“I wanted to do it, I wanted to go out and prove myself and you learn stuff when you’re playing in non-League, so I played a lot of men’s football from an early age and that’s helped me.
“I was only a kid and when you’ve got people trying to smash you. Coming on loan from a local club like Bournemouth, even in training they want to smash you.
“At the time, I just took it with open arms and learnt stuff from it.
“And then I moved up to Oldham last season. The reason for that was the manager Frankie Bunn as he rang me and really wanted to get me there, he was really good for me and my development.
“He trusted me and he played me right away, so I like to think I repaid him with a few goals for Oldham.
“That was different though, because I moved away from home and that’s the furthest I’ve ever been away, a five-hour drive but I loved it up there. It was a completely different way of life, and I didn’t go back home once but obviously family came to see me.
“I was doing well in pre-season this year but it’s hard getting in the team at Bournemouth and they knew I needed to play games, so it was always the plan to go back on loan so Swansea was a good move for me.
“Coops has been brilliant with me, when I joined he knew about me from watching games so I trusted him and he’s got Marge [Martyn Margetson] the goalkeeping coach who is here with England and Marshy [Mike Marsh], and they’ve all been really good.
“It’s a bonus for me that we’re doing so well, if we get promoted it’ll be even better for me because that would be a massive thing for me personally.”
For the next week though, it’s all about England and having had a short taste of life with the Young Lions so far, it’s something he wants more and more of.
“My next objective is to try and stay in the squad,” he said.
“I knew I was still young enough to do it this season and I had eyes on doing it, so now I’m here and I want to stay.”TICKETS: ENGLAND U21S V AUSTRIA