Leeds United’s Patrick Bamford always had belief he would fulfil his England potential

Patrick Bamford says he always quietly believed he would pull on an England shirt, and seeing Kalvin Phillips excel in one over the summer only increased his confidence.

Patrick Bamford celebrates his goal against Burnley before linking up with England (icture: Steve Riding)

That day is moving ever closer with the Leeds United player one of only two specialist centre-forwards in the squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Hungary, Andorra and Poland.

Manager Gareth Southgate chose not to call up another striker after Sheffield-born Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s withdrawal with injury. Marcus Rashford, who played down the middle at times during this summer’s European Championship is also missing whilst his Bradford-born Manchester United club-mate Mason Greenwood was surprisingly overlooked after three goals already this season.

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So with Harry Kane unlikely to play every minute of three games in a week, it would be a major surprise if Bamford did not make it onto the field for the first time.

Patrick Bamford of Leeds United (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Having reached 27-years-old without playing international football, it would be understandable if Bamford had written it off, particularly when Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins was preferred during Bamford’s impressive first season as a bona fide Premier League player.

But the Leeds striker, who has been courted by the Republic of Ireland at times, insisted he started 2021-22 with the ambition in mind.

“Not every player’s career pathway is the same,” argued Bamford, who dipped into the Premier League during a nomadic early career but only got regular football and goals in it last term. “At different times in your career you have different obstacles in the way. I always believed it was going to happen and hoped I would get to this level.

“Without speaking out loud, I always had that self-belief I was capable. I knew I would never give up until the day I retired.

Kalvin Phillips playing for England atr Euro 2020 (Picture: Getty Images)

“I knew whenever I did end up getting called up it would be a proud moment. I was constantly working hard and hoping it came one day.

“It’s very cliched to say every kid grows up dreaming of being a footballer and playing for England but it’s true. It’s the pinnacle to represent your country.

“It’s always been an ambition of mine and a goal I set myself this season.”

Bamford is one in a long line of Chelsea academy graduates to have made it at the top level without getting his chance with the Blues. During his time at Stamford Bridge he was loaned to Milton Keynes Dons, Norwich City, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Derby County and Crystal Palace, before permanent moves to Boro and Leeds.

By the time he moved to West Yorkshire, it was with a reputation as a player who could score goals in the Championship, but not the division above. Yet Kane (23 goals) was the only Englishman to better his 17 Premier League strikes last season but it did not earn him a call-up even to the provisional Euro 2020 squad.

By the same token, his club-mate Phillips was largely under-estimated before being one of England’s best players at the tournament.

“Hopefully I can do the same as Kalvin did,” said Bamford.

“A lot of people didn’t understand why he was in the team and then the Euros he had was fantastic. People now understand and realise what a great player he is.

“I enjoyed watching (the tournament), like very England fan did. The rush it gave the country as a whole made me want to be involved even more.”

Leeds are a team that create a lot of chances under coach Marcelo Bielsa and Bamford is looking forward to more after the deadline-day acquisition of long-time target Dan James from Manchester United.

“I think it would be easy to say he brings extreme pace but we have played against him a few times in the Premier League (most recently two weeks ago) and you can see he has quality as well,” said Bamford, of the Hull-born winger.