Anthony Gordon: ‘I know I am a nightmare for anyone to play against’

Anthony Gordon at England's training base in Blankenhain after falling off his bike

It takes a person with a certain confidence to be sent “10 feet in the air” while falling off his pushbike and to turn it into a positive. Anthony Gordon, with grazes on his hands and chin, plans to execute a bicycle celebration should he find the net at the European Championship.

Gordon’s world turned upside-down, literally, when he tried to film himself on the electric bike as he cycled around the grounds of Spa and Golf Resort Weimarer Land the day after he made his first appearance at the Euros against Slovenia. “The moral of the story is that we spend too much time on our phones these days, just enjoy the moment without a phone,” he said.

The Newcastle winger is 23 but talks like a senior member of the England squad. There is perspective over the criticism levelled at the team and Gareth Southgate. When asked about pressure, he quotes All Blacks great Dan Carter. On his own situation, he has no doubts over what he can do when called upon during this tournament.

Other players can be reluctant to talk themselves up. Gordon calls himself a “nightmare” for any opponent he faces. So a tumble on a bike is not putting him off his stride, despite the ridicule of his team-mates and the bloodied face.

“It was a lovely day, I was going down a hill, trying to take a quick video for my family, just to show them what I was doing. Before I knew it, I was head first into the floor,” he said. “They are electric so they are faster than normal bikes and, in England, the front brake is on the right-hand side.

“I tried to press the left just to slow down and, next minute, it has not slowed down, it has fully come to a stop … and I haven’t. I have gone 10 feet in the air, chin first. It was on the golf course and I’ve managed to land on the only bit of gravel there was. I definitely didn’t press record so there were some positives to come from it.”

Having been presented with stabilisers by a national newspaper ahead of doing his media duties, Gordon says the press will take the credit for his celebration should he find the net at the Euros. “I will do it. You’ve got my word,” he said.

Anthony Gordon at England's training base in Blankenhain after falling off his bike
Gordon failed to realise that the breaks on bikes in Germany are on the other side to the UK - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

Alan Shearer has led the calls for Gordon to be given a chance at the Euros, or more of a chance than the one minute plus stoppage-time he has played against Slovenia so far. Gordon believes he can make a positive impact in a tournament where England have struggled to break down a low-block.

“My main strengths are I am very direct, I’m obviously quick. I know I am a nightmare for anyone that I play against,” he said. “I’m positive. Every time I get the ball, I always try to make something happen. I’m not a very safe player, I am always going for it. I am always trying to put people on the back foot.

“With players we have got – the likes of H [Harry Kane], who likes to drop deep – I think I add a different element to the team.”

Gordon says he is “not that guy” to knock on the manager’s door and ask why he is not playing. Instead, he has maximised training sessions since returning from an ankle injury at the back end of Newcastle’s season – he is ready for Southgate’s call to unlock a defence.

He has been reading Carter’s The Art of Winning: Ten Lessons in Leadership, Purpose and Potential and has also brought a memoir by retired NAVY Seal and ultra-marathon specialist David Goggins. His reading has given him a mindset of controlling what he can and being ready to make an impact in Germany.

Anthony Gordon on his bike at England's training base
Gordon wearing a helmet while riding a bike on Friday - Instagram/@anthonygordon

On the criticism of the team, he sees it as a positive as it means expectations are high. On confidence, he says everyone has doubts but it is how they are managed.

“Everyone naturally doubts themselves to begin with. The key is noticing that you do that yourself and then finding ways to switch it,” he said. “I have zero doubts when it comes to playing football, it’s more off the pitch and before you get on the pitch when the doubt creeps in before games, the butterflies and the nerves. Anyone who tells you that doesn’t happen is a liar. But it’s the best players who can then be self-aware enough to know they’re feeling that, and change it during the game.”

Gordon says he is ready. He is embracing the calls for him to be in the team and says he is determined to make an impression.

“Frustration is probably the wrong word. It’s more of a want, a want to play, a want to perform on the biggest stage. That just comes from my self-belief. I feel like I can impact any game in a positive way. A lot of people have used ‘frustration’ about my minutes but I think that’s the wrong word,” he said.