‘Crazy day’ as Callum Hudson-Odoi receives shock England call-up
Highly-rated Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi has been handed his first England call-up.
A member of the side that won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, the 18-year-old has been subject of sustained interest from Bayern Munich having made his first-team breakthrough at Stamford Bridge this season.
Hudson-Odoi has yet to start a Premier League match for Chelsea but Gareth Southgate has promoted the talented winger to the senior squad after Manchester United’s Luke Shaw became the fourth player to withdraw through injury.
It has been a whirlwind day for the teenager, who had been in Bristol preparing for his first taste of international Under-21 football with Aidy Boothroyd’s side when the call came.
Hudson-Odoi had barely finished his lunch with the U21s before heading up to St George’s Park to join the senior team for the Euro 2020 double-header against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
“It’s been a crazy day but getting my first [senior] international call-up is an amazing feeling,” the 18-year-old said.
“Today has been a very long day for me because I had to travel to Bristol first for the U21s and then getting told that I have to come over here to St George’s Park.
“It’s been a crazy experience but I’m delighted to get the call and it’s a nice feeling to be here as well.
“I thought the manager was joking. I was shocked and then when I heard that I actually had to go over, I couldn’t believe it. I was delighted.
“It’s a dream come true. Now I’ve got to work hard, enjoy every moment and keep working to just hopefully make an impact when I get the opportunity.
“Everybody here is very humble and they’re very nice. They make sure you’re comfortable. No one has an ego here so hopefully I get to know more of the boys here.”
Hudson-Odoi had already been in the news on Monday after Chelsea confirmed they had lodged a formal complaint with Uefa over racist abuse aimed at the player during the closing stages of the 5-0 Europa League win away to Dynamo Kiev last week.
The 18-year-old scored in the Ukrainian capital and will become the youngest Chelsea player in history to play for England if he makes his debut this month. Hudson-Odoi is the second new addition to the squad after in-form Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse, pictured, linked up with Southgate’s party earlier in the day.
There was some surprise about his omission from the 25-man squad named last week and the manager had no hesitation in turning to his former Under-21 captain after Fabian Delph, John Stones and Ruben Loftus-Cheek pulled out of the squad.
Delph was replaced less than an hour into Manchester City’s FA Cup quarter-final win at Swansea, which team-mate Stones missed with a groin injury.
Loftus-Cheek came on as a second-half substitute as Chelsea lost to Everton on Sunday and has now been replaced by former England Under-21 team-mate Ward-Prowse, who has flourished under Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, who has helped add aggression and goals to the midfielder’s game.
Ward-Prowse, 24, has scored six goals since the turn of the year, including stunning free-kicks in Southampton’s last two matches, and was in such impressive form that Southgate was quizzed about why he had overlooked him last week.
“We love Prowsey,” said Southgate. “I’ve been accused of being a father of Prowsey over the years!
“This most recent spell is his best spell since we capped him before. He is, I would say, a world-class deliverer of set-plays.
“But he’s only recently got back into the team at Southampton. I think we’ve got some [good] midfield players and it isn’t a straightforward selection.”