Phil Foden's haircut tribute to Paul Gascoigne at Euro 96

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Phil Foden and Paul Gascoigne
Phil Foden and Paul Gascoigne

It was four years before Phil Foden was born that Euro 96 took over the nation and Paul Gascoigne provided an unforgettable moment in an England shirt with his spectacular volleyed goal against Scotland.

But, on the eve of what is essentially the first home tournament since 1996 for England, Foden has provided his own bit of nostalgia by going ‘full Gazza’ and dying his cropped hair blonde.

Foden certainly looked like someone who is at ease with his new ‘Stockport Gazza’ nickname and the expectation such a statement haircut will put on his performances. England have waited 25 years for another Gazza moment and the Manchester City star might just be the young man to provide it.

And in much the same way that Gascoigne occasionally needed some leniency from his managers, Foden thanked England's Gareth Southgate for giving him a second chance to evoke memories of Gascoigne and the year in which football ‘came home’.

Asked if he feels comfortable with being called ‘the Stockport Gazza’, Foden replied: “Yeah, I don’t mind that, he’s a great player so I wouldn’t mind that at all. No, no pressure, I feel excited. It’s my first time at a major tournament with England, so I’m excited to see what happens and what the future holds.

“I remember watching highlights on the TV of Gazza. An unbelievable player. The full nation knows what he means to the country and what he did, so it won’t be too bad if I try to bring a bit of Gazza on to the pitch.”

Phil Foden
Phil Foden

Other than not worrying about being compared to Gazza, Foden was not afraid to express his opinion that England are good enough to win the Euros at a time when many players steer clear of making bold predictions.

“The quality [of the squad] is very high,” said Foden. “We have got a lot of young players, but they can play at the highest level and we’ve seen that this year. Of course, we’ve got experience like Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane around the team and that is important. I think we have a great balance in this squad and we look really strong in this tournament and why not? We think we could win it.”

Foden did not address the specific question of whether or not he has ever tried to recreate Gazza’s superb volley against Scotland, but he confirmed he has watched it and there was a glint in his eye when he joked that he was the only England player brave enough to copy the former midfielder’s hairstyle.

“I’ve obviously watched some of the Euro 96 highlights on TV before,” said Foden. “I know which [Gazza] goal you are on about – the one where he flicked it over his head and scored. So I remember just watching so many highlights from the past and dreaming about wearing an England shirt. I feel really lucky to be here now and put the shirt on.“

On whether or not he thought his dyed hair could start a craze within the England camp, Foden said: “Er, no. Not too many are as brave as me. I think they like the hairstyles they have got.”

While there has been no good fortune in the way in which Foden has earned his place in the England squad by winning the Premier League title with City and being awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award, the 21-year-old has admitted that he is lucky to have an international manager as forgiving as Southgate.

It is just nine months since Foden, along with Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood, was sent home from England duty in disgrace for inviting women into the England team hotel in Iceland.

But Southgate welcomed him back into the camp and Foden said: “Obviously I made a massive mistake, I was young. But Gareth said if I keep just doing well and keep performing I should get another opportunity. So I had to work hard for it and there are not many managers who would give you another opportunity, so I have to thank Gareth a lot for giving me another chance.”

Fortunately for Southgate and his own hopes of being part of the England squad for many years to come, Foden has found a new hobby to kill some time while on international duty.

“When I was last with England they gave us the Euro stickers collection to complete,” said Foden. “So I had that in my room when I was bored. Just putting them in for something to do and then I started enjoying it even more. I started collecting a few more and I still do that now.”