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World Cup 2014: Southampton left-back Luke Shaw's reaction to his England call brings a breath of fresh air

Friday, February 28, 2014 by Telegraph.co.uk

Time for tears: Luke Shaw reacts to his England call-up as he phones his family with the news

Teenager’s tearful reaction to being named in England's squad is a timely antidote to the malaise of money in our game.

Luke Shaw has already done his country proud.

The Southampton teenager has yet to be capped, has only just been summoned into his first squad but his ecstatic response to receiving Roy Hodgson’s call to join up to face Denmark is a timely reminder that the England national team matters deeply.

One of the criticisms of the Under-21s last summer was that certain players, members of the “too much, too young” generation softened by their first lucrative contract, seemed to lack genuine hunger to be there.

Some felt themselves above Under-21 football, despite the marvellous example of Juan Mata winning the World Cup in 2010 and then reporting for Spanish Under-21 duty the following year; Mata felt it was part of his development and any Spanish call, at whatever level, was to be cherished.

Just starting out, Shaw clearly thinks the same way of international football. It’s not an unpaid chore as certain youngsters believe. It’s an honour. By 10pm on Wednesday evening, Shaw will possess a senior shirt emblazoned with Three Lions to present to his parents.

They will doubtless display it proudly. And they’ll need a long, empty wall to put up some more because Shaw clearly has the talent. And the right temperament judging by his reaction to his first call.

Shaw’s emotional response, from the hugs at the training-ground, to the look of astonishment and joy when Hodgson’s call comes through, a wonderful piece of footage released on Vine by the club, are all an antidote to the malaise of money mattering more than glory. The Saint has shown up the sinners.

His delight was captured in the tweet he posted later in the day: “Couldn’t be any happier! Thank you everyone for your messages and support”.

So good luck to Shaw in whatever he does with his career next. If he goes to Chelsea, as most people expect, and if they manage to see off interest from Manchester City, then good luck to him. He’s worked hard and has not let one fine season raiding down Southampton’s left flank go to his head.

During the interview on Southampton’s YouTube channel, the 18-year-old mentioned the sacrifices that his parents had made, driving him down to training as he started out at the talent factory that is the club’s Academy.
Any parent of an aspiring footballer should keep that footage on their phones.There are no short-cuts to excellence, just dedication from the player and commitment, driving and juggling diaries by the parents.

Shaw could have moped after being ignored for England’s last friendlies, the November games with Chile and Germany. He didn’t. He just got better and better, making his first summons inevitable. Shaw also gave the impression that he understood that the hard work continues, arguably gets harder.

He is in a dogfight with Ashley Cole for the second England left-back slot; Hodgson clearly has Leighton Baines inked into his World Cup 23. Leaving Cole out would be a major decision by Hodgson, omitting all that tournament experience. Shaw himself now comes under more intense scrutiny with every strong display lauded and any mistake magnified.

Welcome to England.

It is impossible to predict which way Hodgson will go over Shaw-Cole, a duel lent extra spice by the Chelsea connotations. Cole has lost his place to Cesar Azpilicueta but has been one of Chelsea’s most reliable stars over the past decade and certainly been England’s most consistent player over the last decade. Those writing Cole off risk charges of naivety.

The great thing is that England have such riches at left-back.

Shaw offers an injection of energy, keeping the seniors on their toes, bringing more pace to the side, more adventure. If Hodgson has decided that Baines is first choice, and it needs stating that certain question marks remain over the Everton left-back’s actual defending (as opposed to his attacking and dead-ball prowess), then is there any point taking Cole to Brazil as a reserve?

Yet there is a logic in giving Shaw some tournament experience, some understanding of how to manage the days off, the boredom, the potential homesickness. For now, both Shaw and Cole should be given a half each against Denmark.

Shaw’s call is also another reminder of the importance of having a strong Academy; even if Southampton do sell, that’s another £20 million banked, or reinvested in youth development. Shaw’s prominence is also another advertisement for Southampton’s football under Mauricio Pochettino; Shaw joins Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert in the FA car heading up the M3.

Any more of this and England will have to get their World Cup song provided by All Saints.

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