Sancho goes from caged lion to England hero in Rome

By Sports Desk July 04, 2021

When Jadon Sancho slalomed past Serhiy Sydorchuk and Andriy Yarmolenko in Rome, those who remember him as a boy in the football cages of south London would have barely batted an eyelid.

Yet it was a joyous piece of skill from the England winger, who will join Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund once Euro 2020 finishes, and reflected his growing confidence at international level.

The Ukraine pair strained to prevent him dancing through midfield, and it eventually took a cynical foul from Yarmolenko to halt the winger's charge.

Sancho, now 21, was raised in the Kennington district south of the Thames, where cage football has been a breeding ground for bright, young English talent, players who have to be nimble-footed and daring with their skills in confined spaces.

It was reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane as Sancho body-swerved this way and that in evading the Ukraine tackles.

"I've never changed," said Sancho on Sunday. "In the cages it was all about nutmegging, badding people up, and taking them on.

"When I've had a one-v-one situation, I've always tried to do the things I used to do in the cages and kind of perfect it when I've been in training.

"There could be like a situation where there's three men around you and you do a mad skill to pull free. It definitely does work, the cage skills, the tight skills and things like that."

 

In England's 4-0 thumping of Ukraine, Sancho attempted seven dribbles, three more than any other England player.

He completed four of those, which was also a team high, bringing a fresh dimension to the team.

Sancho also made three penalty area entries, beaten only in that regard by Mason Mount's four, and had a passing accuracy of 92.9 per cent.

The former Watford and Manchester City youngster could have done little more to press his case for inclusion later in the tournament too, starting with Wednesday's semi-final against Denmark at Wembley.

Speaking on England's Lions' Den YouTube show, Sancho spoke of his satisfaction at reaching the highest levels of the game by representing his country.

"It's something I've been dreaming of as a kid, especially putting on the shirt for my family. It's really a big honour for me," he said.

"I class myself as lucky, and to be representing England in a major tournament is a dream come true really and I'm just thankful for every opportunity I get."

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