Englishman abroad: The rise of Jadon Sancho
On October 13th, behind the closed doors of the Rijeka Arena, in front of an empty stadium, an 18-year-old winger made his debut for England. The clock showed 78'. A moment before coming on, he threw a quick glance at the empty stands. He stepped on to the pitch with his head held high, his face betraying the emotions rising deep beneath. He paused for an instance as if imagining the cheers and applause of the faraway fans. After all, it was an odd way for anyone to make his debut in senior football.
Jadon Sancho didn't perform any miracles that day. He didn't have to. His talents were evident even to an untrained eye. Every time he touched the ball, he injected a sense of purpose to the toothless England attack. He was fast, tricky and deceptive. It felt as though he was the future of English football. Eric Dier spoke after the match, his words full of praise for the teenager.
"Sancho was fantastic when he came on. He’s fast and technically very gifted, and hopefully, he’ll be a big part of England in the future.”
Sancho is the only player in recent years to make his debut for England while playing for a foreign club.
Eyebrows were raised when he left a promising Manchester City side to join Dortmund for €8.7m. Some called him over ambitious, some termed it an ill-advised move. But the time proved them all wrong and worked in favour of Sancho.
Sancho is now an indispensable piece of a reinvigorated Dortmund side, who top the Bundesliga table. It took him barely two years to be a regular of the team. In the dying games of the last season, he showed the footballing World why he was a force to reckon with. He is the final piece of the jigsaw of a footballing side which took the world by surprise.
He adds finesse to the team, he hones their offence, he adorns their playing style. Sancho is a highly talented individual but a remarkably spirited team player. In an era, when individual talents are worshipped above the team play, he is an oddity. He might not be the player England deserves, but he is just the player England needs right now.