This new series of articles brought to you by Last Word on Football looks at the youngsters who could have a very big future in the game. Today we take a look at a Manchester City youngster with potentially a hugely successful career ahead of him. 18-year-old Phil Foden is expected to have a big future for both England and Manchester City. Already, some of Europe’s biggest clubs are monitoring his progress.
Youth Eye: Phil Foden
Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, Foden grew up as a Manchester City supporter. He joined City at the age of eight and signed his Academy scholarship at 16. City also paid for his private education, an indication of how highly thought of he was.
Rise Through the Ranks
After impressing during his time at the academy, it was soon after he signed his academy scholarship that Pep Guardiola thought he was ready to join in with the first team. Just five months after signing his scholarship, Foden was included in City’s squad for their Champions League match against Celtic. Although he was an unused sub, it was apparent that even with the pool of talent Guardiola had at his disposal, Foden was seen as a future first teamer.
It was no surprise that at his age, his appearances in the matchday squad were rare. He still had a lot to learn but his experiences to come would no doubt hold him in good stead for the future.
In the summer of 2017, Foden scored in the European U17 Championships final. However, after a 2-2 draw, England lost on penalties to Spain. It was heartbreaking for the youngsters but they didn’t have to wait long to exact their revenge.
In October of the same year, Foden and England went to the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup. England reached the final where once again they faced Spain. The Spanish raced into a two-goal lead. However, a Foden-inspired England made a brilliant comeback. He scored twice as the Three Lions won 5-2 to lift the trophy.
Foden’s performances during the tournament earned him the title of the best player of the tournament, winning the golden ball in the process.
After impressing during City’s pre-season games and also his excellent performances for England, Foden made several appearances on the bench at the beginning of the 2017/18 season. He was then handed his debut. He came on as a late substitute in the Champions League against Feyenoord. This made him the fourth youngest Englishman to make an appearance in the competition.
In December he became the youngest Englishman to start a Champions League game. Soon after, he made his Premier League debut, coming on as a substitute in a 4-1 victory over Tottenham.
Young Sports Personality of the Year
His amazing 2017 was capped off when he was awarded the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. “It meant everything,” Foden said about being named the Under-17 World Cup’s best player. “But I would like to thank my team-mates, without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”
By this time he was already being called the ‘Stockport Iniesta’. High praise indeed.
Europe, EFL Cup and Premier League Winner
Foden made three appearances in the Champions League and also appeared in the 2018 EFL Cup Final. He came on as a substitute to help his side beat Arsenal 3-0 at Wembley. As if the season hadn’t brought enough success for such a young man, it was about to get better. In May, Phil Foden became the youngest ever player to receive a Premier League winners medal. It capped off an excellent year for the talented youngster.
England Keep Calling
Soon after the current season began, Foden was called up to the England U21 squad. During a 7-0 victory over Andorra, Foden showed why there is such much talk about how good he is and the future he has in front of him.
Pep Guardiola has stated that he believes that Foden us good enough to be in the England senior squad. However, England boss Gareth Southgate will not rush him having just recently moved up to the Under-21 side.
Passing – Regarded by many as his biggest attribute, his range of passing makes more experienced professionals jealous. Although some of his long-range passing can go astray at times, it shows he is not short of confidence and can see an opening from any distance on the pitch.
Eye for goal – No stranger to a goal or two especially at England U17 level. If he can continue to score at a respectable rate then he could be a crucial member England and Manchester City squads for years to come.
His left foot – When in full flow, the ball appears at times to be stuck to his wand of a left foot. With this talent he can dribble around opponents with relative ease, giving opportunities to himself and teammates.
Foden is certainly on the right path to becoming a City and England regular and, although there are already top European clubs monitoring him, he could not be in a better place at present than with Pep Guardiola and City. He is progressing slowly but surely under Guardiola and is receiving more and more game time. Phil Foden is certainly one to keep a close eye on for Manchester City and England fans.