Josh Sims has ranked getting called up for England’s squad in this year’s UEFA European Under-17 Championship higher than all of his other footballing achievements.
The Saints youngster aided the Young Lions’ qualification through Elite Round qualifiers and that has paid dividends with an inclusion in the squad to travel to Malta in May for the competition.
Overwhelmed with pride, the winger has placed the selection above the feat of scoring on his international debut in February’s Algarve tournament.
“I was informed through email and the subject line said, ‘UEFA European Under-17 Championship – Selected’,” Sims revealed to saintsfc.co.uk. “It was the best moment I’ve had so far in football. It’s a different feeling to scoring on my international debut.
“At my age, it’s the biggest competition around. It’s full of all the elite players at my age and they’ll be the hardest games I’ve ever played in, but that’s what I want. To play for your country is an amazing feeling.”
England are tasked with facing the host nation in the opening match of the competition and Sims is anticipating a similar occasion to when they had to travel to Czech Republic to face the Czechs in the Elite Round qualifiers.
The 17-year-old believes the encounter with Malta carries far greater significance and argues that a combination of that and the expected fans in attendance will make it the biggest outing of his fledgling career to date.
Josh reasoned: “I reckon there’ll be quite a crowd for the first game against the host nation Malta. It’ll be similar to when we played against the Czech Republic in the Elite Round qualifiers in their country. They had a lot of loud fans.
“Playing against a different country with different types of fans always provides a new experience. The game against Malta will the biggest I’ve played in so far. If we get a win in the first game, that’ll set us up nicely for the tournament. There will be plenty of pressure with it being the opening game of the competition.”
John Peacock’s side have been drawn with Malta, Turkey and Holland – the latter a team who Sims is familiar with after securing a goal and assist against them on his international bow.
The starlet is confident of success both in his next meeting with the Dutch and in England’s remaining group clashes after setting his sights on emerging from the tournament as champions.
Sims concluded: “Obviously, I’d love to win it – that’d be amazing. We want to get through the groups and see from there. The group we got was decent with Turkey, Holland and Malta. Some of the other lads have played Turkey and have said they’re a decent and strong outfit.
“I think we’ve got a strong chance of going through the group stage. We did research on Holland before the Algarve tournament. We dealt with their gameplan really well. Hopefully they’ll be similar to then as we defended well against them.”