Friday July 12, 2024

Euros call-up ‘surreal’ for England’s rising star Wharton

June 13, 2024
England midfielder Adam Wharton seen in this undated image.— AFP/file
England midfielder Adam Wharton seen in this undated image.— AFP/file  

BLANKENHAIN, Germany: England midfielder Adam Wharton said he is living the dream after securing a shock selection for Gareth Southgate´s Euro 2024 squad.

The 20-year-old has only made 16 Premier League appearances since joining Crystal Palace from Blackburn in a deal worth an initial £18 million ($23 million) in February.

However, Wharton shone in the Eagles´ storming end to the season under Oliver Glasner to earn his first senior international call-up for the tournament in Germany.

"It´s a surreal feeling, honestly. I wasn´t expecting it," Wharton told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

"Obviously I have only just gone into the Premier League, it was more sort of a bonus if I did get in but I am absolutely delighted. I get to do what I love on the top stage -- you can´t beat it.

"It has gone really fast. I have really enjoyed the last six months and I just want to keep playing, getting better."

Wharton survived Southgate´s cull, as more experienced internationals such as James Maddison and Jack Grealish did not make the final 26, thanks in part to his impressive England debut as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The squad is, though, short on midfield options which could open the door to Wharton to feature prominently at the Euros.

"It´s just a dream come true. Every kid who plays football wants to play in the Premier League and for their country.

"(There are) unbelievable players (in the squad) and if I´m chosen to play I´m more than ready, but whoever is on the pitch will step up and perform and help the team."

England are among the pre-tournament favourites thanks to an abundance of attacking talent, including Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden.

However, the Three Lions arrive in Germany on the back of a shock 1-0 defeat by Iceland at Wembley in their final warm-up friendly.

England open their quest for a first-ever European Championship title against Serbia on Sunday before facing Denmark and Slovenia in Group C.