Cole Palmer pays tribute to Mauricio Pochettino for accelerating England dream

Cole Palmer pays tribute to Mauricio Pochettino for accelerating England dream

Cole Palmer says former Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino is the biggest reason he is preparing for a European Championship knockout game with England but believes the Argentine's replacement Enzo Maresca will improve the club's hoards of young players.

Palmer is in contention to feature in England's last-16 tie against Slovakia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday after impressing from the bench in the goalless draw with Slovenia in their final group game.

The 22-year-old was named in Gareth Southgate's squad for Germany on the back of a superb breakthrough season under Pochettino, in which he scored 22 League goals for the Blues.

Pochettino left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent last month, and Palmer says he "gutted" to see the manager go.

Asked if he was sorry to see Pochettino leave, Palmer said: "Yeah, I was because he put his trust in me and we built a good relationship. Not just with him but with all his staff who were there. When he left I was gutted.

"He just gave me the opportunity and the freedom and said ‘do what you do’.

Mauricio Pochettino helped Cole Palmer flourish at Chelsea (Action Images via Reuters)
Mauricio Pochettino helped Cole Palmer flourish at Chelsea (Action Images via Reuters)

"I spoke to some of the people who had worked with him, even players, and they said he loves working with young players so I thought that was perfect.

"He's probably the main reason [I'm here] because a different manager might not have given me that freedom and opportunity to do what I did at Chelsea.

“[The season] went a lot better than I expected.

“Obviously I believed what I could do anyway, but I didn't think I would go there and have that sort of impact that fast.”

Pochettino was replaced by Leicester City boss Enzo Maresca, who was formerly Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City.

Palmer came through the ranks at City before joining Chelsea in a £40million deal last summer and credited Maresca with moving him to the right wing as a young player.

"I had Enzo at City Under-21s for a season and then he went to Parma and then when I went up with Pep [to the seniors] he came back as Pep’s assistant," he said. "He’s a good coach, a really good coach. I think tactically he knows what he is doing. He’s a good coach and he will improve a lot of the players.

"Enzo was the one who put me at right-wing. So from the 18s I was playing 10 and when I went to the 23s Enzo played me on the right. That was my first full season on the right."

Palmer opened his England account with a penalty in the 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the pre-tournament friendly and scored all nine of his spot-kicks for Chelsea last season.

He said he would be happy to come on specifically for a shootout if needed in the Euros knockouts and is ready to start if called up by Southgate.

“Ivan [Toney] asked me this. I was speaking about this the other day with Ivan," he said. "[And], yeah I’d come on and take one.

"Personally I think [I'm ready to start] but it's not up to me.

"I wouldn't say I'm impatient because I know it's my first tournament and you've got players like Bukayo [Saka], Phil [Foden] and Jude [Bellingham] in my position so it is understandable [that I'm not playing]. But I was just want to get on and try to impress when I do.

"I support and stuff but ask any player who's sat on the bench and they think 'get me on'. It's just normal to want to go on the pitch.

"I was just excited to get on for 20 minutes [against Slovenia] and thought I was going to try to do something or make an impact."