18-year-old Jadon Sancho is thriving in front of Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall, and for Theo Walcott, that’s enough for him to know the pressure of playing for England won’t affect the youngster at all.
Sancho, a Manchester City youth product, is playing at Dortmund after moving to Germany this summer, and has embraced his super-sub role scoring a goal and assisting six despite just one lone start this season. His stellar play has given England manager Gareth Southgate cause to bring him into the national fold, a positive experience for Sancho even if he does not see the field during Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain.
“He can deal with it, he’s been in the Dortmund dressing room, he’s played at their stadium which is fantastic,” Walcott said. “He won’t be fazed at all.”
Walcott was just 17 when he was selected to the England squad for the 2006 World Cup despite not having made a senior appearance for Arsenal in his career, and while he didn’t make an appearance in Germany, he would know what that kind of pressure is like. With Dortmund, Sancho plays at 81,000-capacity Westfalenstadion where the fans are known for their ferverous support.
Thankfully for Sancho, Walcott believes the presence of other young players will help Sancho fit in.
“It’s completely different now, there are a lot of young players in that group,” Walcott said. “When I came through there was Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard – completely established players in the team – so it’s a different environment I would say. Of course it’s still daunting but when you get down on the field and play football that’s all you want to do, you just want to play, it doesn’t matter who it’s for.”
Alongside Sancho, the young players Walcott is referring to include 20-year-old Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, 21-year-old Leicester City playmaker James Maddison, and 22-year-old Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks