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The best England player reactions to their 2022 World Cup call-ups

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Being called up by your country for a World Cup is arguably the ultimate honour for a professional footballer as it is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice.

With only 26 places on the plane up for grabs and a wealth of talent in every area of the pitch, getting called up by Gareth Southgate for the 2022 World Cup England squad is an incredible achievement.

The tournament kicks off very soon in Qatar with just one set of Premier League fixtures left to play before the break. We at 90min are taking a look at some of the best player reactions to getting the call-up.

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Anyone getting their first-ever World Cup call-up is going to be even more excited than others. That is the case for Manchester City’s Phil Foden who absolutely deserves his place in the squad and is a serious candidate to start the first group game against Iran.

Foden shared a picture on Twitter of himself in an England shirt and captioned it: “It’s always an honour to be called up to the England squad but this is something else, my first World Cup, wow! Buzzin’! Can’t wait.”

This was one of the most heartfelt reactions to being called up. There was a very real chance that James Maddison would not be called up to the squad and he was a major talking point in the hours running up to the announcement.

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It is his first World Cup and he shared a picture of himself as a child wearing an England shirt with face paint on. The caption read: “It hasn’t sunk in… I’m going to The World Cup. Dreams really do come true.”

Kalvin Phillips has not managed to make too much of a splash at Manchester City since his move from Leeds United due to injury but Gareth Southgate has shown faith in him by adding the midfielder to the squad.

He is another heading to his first World Cup, and he said on Twitter: “Buzzing is an understatement! I’ve dreamt of the call to represent my country at the World Cup since I can remember. I can’t thank the England manager and staff enough for their faith in me, and I’ll do everything I can to repay that in Qatar. Bring on the World Cup!”

England captain Harry Kane gave a typically uplifting message once it was confirmed he will be in the squad. He will be at the centre of anything good that England do in Qatar and his rallying cry on Twitter showed that.

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He accompanied a video with the message: “So proud to be captaining my country at a World Cup for the second time. I know this group of lads will give absolutely everything to go all the way. Let’s go!”

Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson probably didn’t expect to be heading to the World Cup until only a few weeks ago. His wonderful form under Eddie Howe means he has forced Southgate’s hand. His message shows the long road that the 30-year-old has taken to get to the ultimate stage.

His message on Instagram said: “Absolute honour to be called up to represent my country for a World Cup. Something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy and will cherish every moment of!

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“In 2017 whilst recovering from my second ACL injury in Qatar, having never represented my country at this point, I said to myself before I left..’I will be back to play in the 2022 World Cup’.

“Dedication and hard work shows how you can achieve anything!! Can’t wait to meet up with the lads and work even harder together now to achieve greatness 🦁🦁🦁”

It is no secret that it can be harder to impress an England coach when you play in another country, and that is what has possibly put paid to other players’ attempts to make the squad.

Young Jude Bellingham has done enough while at Borussia Dortmund and when called upon by Southgate to earn his first-ever World Cup call-up.

He said on Instagram: “One of my biggest dreams growing up was to play at a world cup, I’m so grateful to have been given the chance to do so. Will give everything to try and make it a tournament that the country can be proud of. Let’s go.🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿❤️”

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Eric Dier on England’s penalty record

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Eric Dier has insisted that England have broken their ‘mental barrier’ in penalty shootouts ahead of their World Cup round of 16 clash with Senegal.

The Three Lions are set to face off against the AFCON champions at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday evening, and while many expect England to see off Senegal in normal time, fears remain of the lottery of a penalty shootout if the game ends in a draw.

England’s record in penalty shootouts down the years has been well documented, with the victory over Colombia at the 2018 tournament the first time the nation has ever won a World Cup penalty shootout.

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Speaking about the Three Lions’ penalty hoodoo, Dier stated that through the shootout win over Colombia, England were able to get over their mental barrier: “There are ifs, buts and maybes aren’t there?

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

“I feel like that World Cup, it’s difficult for me to say because I was involved, but I felt in that game we broke down a lot of mental barriers and stereotypes that exist in English football surrounding things like knockout games and penalty shootouts and playing against that type of opposition as well.

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“I think that game I remember it felt at the time like it was a weight off our shoulders and I think you saw that in the next game against Sweden (in the quarter-final).

“No one was talking about us winning it and that game was a moment in which we all felt like we had got over a few hurdles and now we were free to just play and some of the weight of history had been removed from our backs.

“I’m definitely not scared to take a penalty. I’d be nervous in the moment but I’m not scared to do it. To be honest, my pen against Colombia when Pickford saved the penalty before, it made my penalty a lot easier.

“It was to win it, not to get knocked out, so it’s a completely different psychology. When he saved his, it was a lot easier for me. He helped me a lot.”

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How many teams will play at the 2026 World Cup?

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The World Cup is the biggest event in global football, with nations across the planet dreaming of lifting the iconic trophy.

The tournament has changed in style and format over the years, though the 2026 edition has attracted attention for some key changes which may alter the playing schedule in a way we haven’t seen for decades.

With all sorts of talk over the number of teams playing and the tournament’s format, here’s what you need to know.

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In January 2017, the FIFA Council voted unanimously to increase the number of teams participating from 32 to 48. That decision was met with criticism, especially from organisations in Europe.

The European Club Association, La Liga president Javier Tebas and then Germany manager Joachim Low were among those who argued teams where already playing too many games.

It was also seen as a political decision from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who had run his election campaign on the promise of involving more countries in the World Cup.

Given the increase of sides from the 2026 World Cup, a change of format is expected. The initial vote in 2017 declared there would be 16 groups each consisting of three teams, with the top two reaching the knockout stage which will include 32 teams.

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The overall amount of matches will increase from 64 to 80, though the finalists will still only play seven games each under the proposals.

In late 2022, it was revealed FIFA are becoming open to keeping the current group stage process involving four teams each, with some revealing concerns over potential dead rubbers on the final matchdays of each group.

The three-game group stage proposal has attracted criticism. There have been concerns over a potential rise in collusion as seen in previous group matches.

The 1982 Disgrace of Gijon saw West Germany and Austria play out a 1-0 win for the Germans, allowing both sides to go through at the expense of Algeria, who had played earlier in the day. The game was met with outrage, though FIFA denied any wrongdoing on either side.

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The 2022 World Cup delivered plenty of entertainment during the group stage, with Group D in particular throwing up drama in the Poland vs Argentina and Saudi Arabia vs Mexico games.

Qualification for a 48-team World Cup would also change as more teams can make the final cut. Asian, African and CONCACAF sides all have greater chances to reach FIFA’s flagship event, while a spot for an Oceania side is now guaranteed.

The USA, Canada and Mexico and jointly host the 2026 World Cup. 23 cities across the three nations will host games, with the US taking 60 matches. The joint bid comfortably saw off an effort from Morocco to host the tournament.



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Virgil van Dijk comments on Liverpool being put up for sale

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Virgil van Dijk has claimed Liverpool will remain one of the biggest clubs in the world regardless of FSG’s potential sale.

The centre-back is currently on international duty with the Netherlands at the World Cup in Qatar, helping his side safely navigate a round of 16 clash with USMNT to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Speaking at the press conference after that 3-1 win over the USA, Van Dijk was asked about the news that Liverpool’s owners FSG are preparing to sell the club.

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“I have full trust in Liverpool that they will be fine. We are a very established club, one of the biggest in the world and that will stay that way. Whoever comes in to fill in those roles, they will do very well. I am aware of everything that is happening.

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

“Whether I am taking it in and doing something with it right now, I don’t think so because the full focus is on the World Cup but hopefully everything will be sorted and clarified when I am back. At this point, I am definitely not thinking about it.”

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The Fenway Sports Group recently announced Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were assisting with the potential sale of the Anfield club.

In terms of potential suitors, Saudi Arabia’s sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal has already expressed his desire for the nation to get involved with Liverpool.



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