Arsenal star Ben White 'cried' and was in 'shock' after England phone call

Gareth Southgate, Manager of England, looks on during the England Men UEFA Euro 2024 Training Squad Announcement at St George's Park on May 21, 2024 in Burton upon Trent, England
Gareth Southgate has named his provisional 33-man England squad -Credit:Getty Images

Three years after Ben White 'cried' after being called up for England, the Arsenal defender has been omitted from Gareth Southgate's European Championship squad.

White was called up for selection for Euro 2020 after Trent Alexander-Arnold sustained an injury that ruled him out of the tournament. Despite not playing in the competition, White did feature in a warm-up match against Romania, representing England for the full 90 minutes.

Since then, White's involvement with the national team has been limited, particularly after he departed from the World Cup squad. Reports claimed that White requested not to be considered for the recent friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, with Arsenal's sporting director Edu communicating his wishes to Southgate.

Despite England suffering somewhat of an injury crisis in defence, White, who has four caps to his name, has not been included in Southgate's initial 33-man squad. During the last international break, the ex-Middlesbrough manager made it clear the door has not been shut on White.

However, when asked about his absence from the squad, Southgate bluntly said: "I didn't speak to Ben, as far as I know he's not available to us".

The England boss' response is a sharp contrast from White's elation when he was called up for the 2021 competition.

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When he recalled the moment of his selection, during an interview with Sky Sports in 2021, White said. "I got a phone call, got told the news, I was out for dinner, I didn't really believe it!

"Obviously speaking to Dan (Ashworth), he told me all the news, when I was going, it was obviously unbelievable. I put the phone down, rang my mum straight away, sat down there, cried, mum was crying, my dad, had all my sisters there and, yeah, I just sat and cried for about an hour," reports the Mirror.

"I couldn't really believe it and I don't think it's settled in yet. I didn't really think that I would be called, I thought it was a bit too late because I've heard you get called way before it.

"But I obviously didn't and when that call did come I was over the moon with it and shocked really. No pressure, I've got to go what I've got to do, do my best and if I get game time, I've got to produce my quality and show what I've got."

At the time, Southgate praised White as an "exciting young defender" and expressed admiration for his versatility on the field. However, despite his impressive campaign, White will not be involved in the competition in Germany.

Southgate's selection included eight central defenders and four full-backs, including Trent Alexander-Arnold who has been categorised as a central midfielder on England's list. White had another standout season with Arsenal, narrowly missing out on the Premier League title.

The 26-year-old featured in all but one Premier League match, contributing four goals and four assists in a defence that kept 18 clean sheets. In March, Southgate mentioned that White is not entirely out of the England picture but conceded it would be challenging to select him for this summer's tournament.

"As I've mentioned before, the door is always open for us," stated the England manager during the previous international break. "Obviously, it's a challenge ahead of the Euros, with players who have been consistently playing, but we can't predict who will be available in that part of the field.

"I respected the situation as Arsenal reached out to us. So ultimately, I recall the conversation I had with him last March. I felt it was right to step back a bit. But I've always kept the door ajar. I was eager to include him in this camp."