With two major tournaments to come in the space of the next two years, Harry Winks has hailed the togetherness of the England squad and believes positive times lie ahead for Gareth Southgate’s men.
Winks, who has won ten caps for the Three Lions since making his senior debut in 2017, was speaking to Saunders CB and Micah Richards on Positively England, a new podcast celebrating our 21 Days of Positivity campaign, which is supported by Nationwide Building Society.
The midfielder progressed through England's development groups, starting at under-17 level in 2012, and believes the fact that so many of the current senior squad have come through together has helped build a togetherness and positive environment within the squad.
“We’ve had the same group of lads for a few years now,” Winks explained. “Everyone gets on really well. There’s a good team spirit in the squad. Quite a lot of the boys have progressed from Under-16s and Under-17s upwards anyway, so a lot of us have been with each other at some point in our development.
“There’s a really good togetherness and so much ability in the squad, so it’s a positive time for England.”
"It's important to take a step back to realise where you are and what you've achieved." 👊@HarryWinks joins @saunderscb and @MicahRichards in the next episode of Positively England with @AskNationwide!— England (@England) January 25, 2021
Winks himself won his first cap for the Under-17s nine years ago, but looks back on the moment he missed out on a place in the Victory Shield squad a year previous as a key moment in his career.
“There was the Victory Shield at Under-16s and I wasn’t selected. There were a lot of players playing at the time and it was everyone’s dream to be selected for England,” he recalled. “I wasn’t and it was the year after at Under-17s that I got my first call-up.
“It was such a proud moment, but that heartache of missing the Victory Shield – it was on TV as well and at 16, playing on TV for England was the dream. I was jealous. I wanted to be there.
“When you’re an academy player that was the top thing. To miss out on that was difficult, but it gave me more motivation to get in to the next England squad. When I look back it’s such a minor thing in my career, but it was a stepping stone that got me to the next level.”
Four years on from his first Young Lions call-up, Winks was with the under-21 squad and it was here where his aspirations to represent his country at senior level were heightened further.
“I was in the Under-21s and you’d walk around the place and see the seniors. You’d watch them training after you had trained, because we trained just behind the seniors,” Winks added.
“You’d walk in from training and watch and you’d kind of always aspire and say to yourself ‘that’s where I want to get to’.
“It’s nice [at St. George’s Park] having everyone together and close, because it gives you that ambition to get to the senior level.”
Our 21 Days of Positivity campaign 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 is all about promoting mutual respect on and off the pitch.
You can listen to the third episode with Harry below. For more intimate, insightful and inspiring interviews with our Three Lions and Lionesses search for 'Positively England' wherever you get your podcasts.