'I cried for an hour' - Ben White's emotional response to England call-up
Albion defender Ben White admitted it was a hugely emotional moment when he found out he'd been selected for England's provisional Euro 2020 squad.
White, 23, has been excellent for Brighton during his first season in the Premier League but didn't think he would be included in Gareth Southgate's preliminary 33-man squad ahead of this summer's tournament.
“I was told the news while I was out for dinner,” White said. “I didn’t really believe it! Dan [Ashworth] told me about it and when I was going, it was unbelievable.
“I then put the phone down and rang my mum straight away, I was crying, mum was crying, my dad and my sisters were there. I just sat and cried for an hour and could not really believe it. I don’t think it has sunk in yet.”
“An international call-up is always something you want, but obviously during the season I have been focussing on playing and putting in the performances for Brighton.
“When we finished on Sunday against Arsenal I thought that was it, I can go on my summer holidays now. To get a call-up for England is unbelievable.
“After the game against Arsenal I assumed it was a bit too late, because I had heard that you get called way before the squad is announced. When that call did come I was over the moon and shocked really.”
England boss Southgate added, “We’ve tracked him since he was on loan at Leeds. We’ve seen him play in midfield, he’s comfortable on the ball and has pace.
“It’s still early for centre-backs of his age, and Ben Godfrey, they tend to mature later. We think it’s a good opportunity for them to come and work with us.”
It’s been an impressive rise for White who started 36 of Brighton’s 38 Premier League matches. It’s his first season in the top flight following a successful loan spells at Peterborough, Newport and then Leeds in the Championship last season.
Leeds were so impressed with the defender they tried to sign him last summer on a permanent basis and Brighton turned down three bids of more than £20m.
Southgate added: “They (White and Ben Godfrey) are both exciting young defenders, there are others we have been looking at that we really like.
“These two are flexible, they play in different roles, this is a great opportunity for them to work with the team. There is no way of knowing how long they will be with us at this stage but it should be a fantastic experience for them.”
Southgate will reduce his 33-man squad to 26 next Tuesday, a day before England play their first warm-up game against Austria.
The Three Lions then play Romania (6 June) with both games taking playing at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.