Leicester City have been praised for the progress they continue to make on the pitch — progress that comes with an added benefit to England! That’s the verdict of former Foxes ace Tony Cottee, who says that call-ups for the likes of Harry Maguire, Jamie Vardy, Ben Chilwell, James Maddison and Demarai Gray to Gareth Southgate’s senior side proves advancement continues apace.
Cottee, 53, who earned seven Three Lions caps, spoke to the club’s official website to discuss the inclusion of Maguire and Chilwell in the recent squads as well as the inclusions of Maddison, Gray, Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury in the U21s set-up.
The former West Ham and Everton striker, who bagged 27 goals for City in a three-year spell at the club, said: “You can’t underestimate what it does to the club. I always think that there should be room for local talent, for English talent to perform on the Premier League stage. Leicester give these guys the chance, the platform, to play in the Premier League.
“Because of what they’re doing for Leicester, they’re now being given the opportunity to do that for England and the Club deserves great credit. There are many other clubs out there that are choosing players from all around the world, which is great and that’s their choice.
“The fact that Leicester have had five players called up for England at senior level, that just shows you what good progress is being made. It’s incredible really because I remember coming here about 10 years ago as a Sky pundit and the club would have been bobbling around in the Championship, not really going anywhere.”
Cottee says he witnessed “the usual ups and downs” of Leicester that seemed to follow the club for many years, but he looks at what’s happened in terms of winning the Premier League and building on that as well, adding: “The club’s certainly been going in the right direction, which is great as an ex-Leicester player. I’m really pleased about that.”
And sticking with England, who enjoyed two Euro 2020 qualifiers wins over the Czech Republic and Montenegro, Cottee says excitement is growing ahead of the first-ever Nations League finals tournament in the summer which will see England face Holland in the last-four.
He said: “It’s a fantastic idea. Whoever came up with it deserves a great deal of credit. I grew up in an era where we travelled all around Europe playing meaningless friendlies. Then, since I’ve been retired, I was a season ticket holder at Wembley for 10 years and I had 10 years of going to Wembley watching friendlies against Albania or someone like that.
“You could almost see that the players aren’t that interested in the friendlies, you get poor crowds and the atmosphere’s not there and they were becoming meaningless and pointless. So, to come up with a tournament and design a tournament that gives the competitiveness – we all enjoyed watching the Croatia and the Spain matches. But after that, we did fantastically well to get the results to get us into the finals of the tournament.
“With the Euros being just under two years away now, it’s a great opportunity in the summer for young kids like Ben Chilwell and others that are pushing forward. From an English point of view, we’re all mad England fans, it would be nice to win something! Alright, it’s not a Euros, it’s not a World Cup, but it is a start.”