Jadon Sancho says seeing other young players – both from the England setup and around Europe – performing well on the biggest stages helps motivate him to improve his own game.
The forward, who made his debut for the Three Lions in 2018, progressed through the England development teams with the likes of Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi and says seeing friends and team-mates performing well helps drive him on to continue working hard.
Sancho, who was speaking to Saunders CB and former England defender Micah Richards on the first episode of Positively England – a brand-new podcast supporting the FA’s 21 Days of Positivity campaign – said: “I love motivating myself and looking at other good young players, like Phil Foden.
“These guys motivate me and I’m sure I motivate them because we like to see each other doing well and when other young players and friends do well it pushes each one of us, so it’s good. You motivate each other and bounce off each other’s energy.
“I also look at players like [Kylian] Mbappe and [Erling] Haaland. When they’re doing well it motivates me because I want to do well with them. They are other young players and it’s competition, because you want to be amongst those names.”
Sancho has enjoyed a rapid career rise since moving to Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City in 2017, with over 100 appearances for the Bundesliga club, as well as 18 caps and three goals for the Three Lions.
Looking back on his journey so far, one moment from his youth stands out in particular for helping shape his progression. “When I was in Year 8 I had a meeting with Watford and they said if I carried on with my behaviour they'd have to release me,” Sancho explained.
“I had a bad attitude, I’ll admit that and I think that was the turning point for me. When they said that I just said ‘I can’t get released, I’ve come a long way’ and from there I just switched on. They just said ‘we don’t care about your potential, it’s all about how you conduct yourself on the pitch and off the pitch’.
“From there I switched on and changed my ways. I was just enjoying football and I always looked forward to playing matches but It just changed my whole perspective on what I wanted to be.”
With all the experience he has gained so far, Sancho has a simple message for all young footballers: “I have a special saying I always use and I think it’s the best: if you believe, you can achieve. It’s a simple saying, but it’s so effective,” he said.
“You’ve got to believe in yourself, especially if you’re not good at something. Like for me, there are some things I need to improve on my game but I know if I carry on working it’ll work out soon.
“For every young player out there that’s chasing their dream, I think you should just go for it and never give up.”
The FA’s 21 Days of Positivity celebrates the importance of building a positive environment in grassroots football by encouraging players to enjoy the game. The campaign is supported by Nationwide Building Society, and it’s all about promoting mutual respect on and off the pitch.
You can listen to the first episode with Jadon below, with more intimate, insightful and inspiring interviews with our Three Lions and Lionesses to be released over the next three weeks.