Chalobah | “Realisation Of A Dream”
It's been 30 long years since a Watford player was last called up to a full England squad.
Nathaniel Chalobah's invitation to join Gareth Southgate's England group for qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia has prompted a reaction from Hornets' fans which challenges the idea that pulling on an England shirt means less than it once did.
Since the news went public the midfielder's phone has been abuzz with congratulatory tweets and texts, and Chalobah, capped almost 100 times along the Three Lions' youth pathway, can't wait to make the step into senior international football.
“I'm absolutely buzzing, I'm ecstatic,” he said, speaking from the Hornets' London Colney training ground.
“I got the text and was smiling from ear to ear. It's a realisation of a dream, it's all happening quite fast really. It hasn't hit me yet. I need to call my family and speak to them. They'll be over the moon!
“I've got a lot of thank-yous to say to a lot of people but the focus is this weekend [v Brighton], we've got to get that out of the way first.”
Chalobah expects a familiar atmosphere when he arrives at England's St George's Park next week.
“I've worked with a few of the boys in the Under-21s, so I don't think there will be any problem with the transition and settling in.
“I think Gareth has always made the environment as friendly as possible and the lads have always been like that as well, even when we saw them [the first-team] around St George's Park.
And as the impromptu post-training chat comes to an end, Chalobah's parting words sum up his feelings on what could prove to be a pivotal summer in the 22-year-old's career.
“I need to catch my breath. When you write it up, just say that - I'm lost for words.”
Head Coach Marco Silva feels Chalobah’s call-up to the senior England squad is testament to the hard work and talent of the Hornets’ midfielder.
Chalobah won a record 97 caps at youth level for England but he now gets the chance to stake a claim for a full cap after graduating to Gareth Southgate’s team on the back of two impressive performances in the Golden Boys’ midfield against Liverpool and Bournemouth.
“First of all congratulations to him,” said Silva.
“For the boy it’s good news as it’s one target in his mind, one goal for his career. It’s fantastic for him that he has achieved this. I’m sure he will go there and work hard like he does here. He’s worked hard for this.”
The call-up is also a feather in the cap for the club who are celebrating the first call-up by a permanent member of the squad since John Barnes in 1987.
“It’s a very good moment for the club,” added Silva. “It shows we did a good move [in signing Chalobah from Chelsea] and it’s important for the club and our fans as well. We need to continue to work with him.”
England, who have a two-point lead in World Cup Qualifying Group F with four qualifying matches left, face Malta on September 1 and Slovakia at Wembley three days later.