Tuesday 12 June 2012
England boss Roy Hodgson tipped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a big international future after the Arsenal midfielder gave an assured performance in the 1-1 draw against France.
Hodgson sprung a surprise by including the 18-year-old winger in England's starting line-up for the UEFA Euro 2012 opener but the manager said Oxlade-Chamberlain had earned his place.
"He deserved it," said Hodgson.
"The way he's played since coming into the squad, the performance he gave against Belgium, the ability he has to skip past defenders - which is an important ability to have - is excellent."
The Gunners starlet, who had never previously played a competitive match at international level, repaid his manager's faith with an eye-catching display on the left-wing against the French.
"I wanted him to remember he has plenty of games for England ahead of him"
- Roy Hodgson
Hodgson believes it will be the first of many major tournament games for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
"I said to him before the game that this was a big occasion, but there'll be so many more big occasions in the rest of his career so he shouldn't hang himself on this occasion," added Hodgson.
"I just wanted him to play to the best of his ability and remember he has plenty of games for England ahead of him."
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who finished the 2010/11 season as a League One player for Barclays Premier League new boys Southampton, admitted that even he was surprised by his rapid rise.
"Everything is coming as a surprise to me at the moment. I have to remind myself I was one of the original players picked for the squad so I'm here to do this job and have to make sure I'm ready when called upon,” the teenager told TV reporters after the match in Donetsk, Ukraine.
"I was delighted to get the call and then you have to get your mind around the game.
"Against a good French side we showed we can stick with them, fight, sometimes in tournament football you are going to be outplayed and it is about getting the right result."