Chelsea FC star Mason Mount leading England’s next generation on a mission to make Euros history

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·3-min read
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 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

For what feels like a lifetime, England have left major tournaments bemoaning the fact they been without a player capable of control and composure on the biggest stage.

If only we had had Luka Modric in Russia, Andrea Pirlo in 2012 or Deco back in 2004, how different things could have been.

That no longer feels like an excuse for the Three Lions.

In 2014, the Football Association moved to take action and transform the profile of young English players with the England DNA, a "world-class approach of elite player development."

The plan, spearheaded by then Under-21s manager Gareth Southgate, sent eyebrows skyward - but looks to be bearing fruit.

Mason Mount, aged 15 when the plan was implemented, epitomises the versatile, intelligent and confident player the FA wanted to be moulded and pushed through to senior level with England - and the midfielder has set out to "create history" this summer.

"We've got players that can handle the ball," said Mount. "Keep the ball and play possession football, create chances and be a threat going forward. That is something we're obviously always trying to work on to perfect."

Mount is not alone. Phil Foden was 14 at the time the ‘England DNA’ was launched, Bukayo Saka was 13 and Jude Bellingham was 11; all embody a new breed of English talent not afraid of taking on challenges on the pitch, or off.

Mount has spent time in the Netherlands on loan with Vitesse Arnhem, Bellingham has shot to fame on the biggest stage with Borussia Dortmund in Germany - both primed to aid England's push this summer.

"At the moment there’s probably a lot of the squad are very technical players, that have had experience abroad," said Mount.

"The boys coming from Germany playing in that league, it’s a very technical league. A couple from Spain as well.

"It always helps when you have those experiences and play around that type of football. I played in Holland and that was a very technical league, and I learned a lot from that experience as well.”

 (PA)
(PA)

For years with England's "golden generation" there was also the cliched debate over the ability of two of the world's best midfielders - Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard - to play alongside one another, and where that left Paul Scholes.

England's players could play one position, and one position only. It is that mentality that caused such consternation at Southgate's decision to pick four right-backs. "They're four of our best footballers," was the England manager's retort.

Things are different here, again - but England alone cannot take the credit.

Jose Mourinho this week hailed Mount's "incredible footballing brain", something the 22-year-old feels was forged in Chelsea's academy.

"I think from a very young age it was very tactical," said Mount.

"The focus wasn’t always too much on winning, it was a lot about learning; learning how to play in tough games, or in different circumstances, how to swap formations or play in different positions.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"That was always something I remember: playing in loads of different positions when I was younger, and learning about what it takes to play a right-wing role, or holding midfield, or as a striker.

“I had a lot of experiences in those different formations and positions. So it really helps. And now I can feel like I can play in different positions. I know how to adapt, and that helps when you’re playing now.”

It is that confidence and versatility that has made Mount a go-to, not only for Frank Lampard, the man who gave him his break at senior level with Derby County, but Southgate and, eventually, Thomas Tuchel, too.

Being able to play different positions will not win England their first ever European Championship, but come the end of the tournament the envious glances may be directed towards Southgate's stable and not away from it.

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