‘I still have the scar under my eye’ – Calvert-Lewin’s journey from being headbutted in non-league to England call-up

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was sat wearing the England badgehaving scored nine goals in his first six games this season, but recalled an early career moment that prepared him for this day.

Gareth Southgate will likely grant the Everton No 9 his international debutas the Three Lions prepare for a friendly with Wales before competitive Nations League matches against Belgium and Denmark.

However, looking back at his loan at non-league Stalybridge Celtic, the 23-year-old was recalling his senior debut as he was headbutted early on in the 4-2 win over Hyde United in the Conference North.

Six rungs down the football pyramid, Calvert-Lewin had a wake-up call as a youngster, although it is an experience that has helped him grow into the player that he is today.

“I don’t know if you can see – I’ve still got the scar under my eye from the first 20 mins of playing for Stalybridge,” Calvert Lewin told reporters. “It was from a throw-in and I went to flick it on and I flicked my head one way and he’s gone ‘bang’ and headbutted me in the face so I knew from pretty early what was required.

“I played the rest of the game with one eye because this one closed up. I’ve always felt I’ve enjoyed the physical battle and enjoyed the tough tests. I went on to score two goals in that game and it was a good experience and one I enjoyed getting beaten up, to be honest.

“That experience at the time – it was the most I’d ever enjoyed my football up to that point. It was thoroughly enjoyable and it just gave me that sense of what it was to play in front of fans and to play proper men’s football and play for three points.

“At 17 it was what I needed, definitely a catalyst in propelling me forward and helping me get here.

“Sometimes you can when you go through the academy and then you’re a scholar, everything’s quite nice and easy and then you realise that players are playing to put food on the table, they are playing for three points and it means that much more.

“It’s an eye-opener at a young age and I’m glad I had that experience because now I don’t take it for granted and it was a humbling experience as well but definitely part and parcel of men’s football.”

Part of Calvert-Lewin’s talent is his physicality, and it is something that he is throwing around to dominate defenders in the Premier League.

For a time, many thought what would hold back the striker was his lack of goal-scoring instinct and his friendly personality. Calvert-Lewin admits that he has had to learn why his power is so important through former Toffees caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson.

“Duncan told me to back myself more and believe in my stature and back my strength and I think it’s a confidence thing – once you realise you can do it once, you start to do it more consistently and then it becomes part of your game which I think is what’s happened,” he said.

“When I first came on for Everton and I was learning and I was still relatively young when you go under the lights of the Premier League, you come under much more scrutiny than perhaps if you were playing elsewhere and rightly so, it’s the top league in the world.

“I think now I’m grateful for that and it’s definitely toughened me up and mentally made me into the person I am now.”

Playing alongside an attack that boasts James Rodriguez and Richarlison under manager Carlo Ancelotti, Calvert-Lewin is thriving. Part of his early-season flurry of goals has been through his aerial ability and he cherishes seeing the ball crossed into the box.

“For me, it’s something that has come natural,” he said. “It’s not something I have particularly worked on. I remember as a kid I loved heading the ball and maybe that’s had an effect on where I am now.


Source : goal.com