Jonjoe Kenny insists he is determined to keep improving his game after a breakthrough season for Everton and further success on the international stage.
The Academy graduate will bid for a second major trophy for England in 12 months when the Three Lions’ Under-21 side - which also features fellow Blues Tom Davies, Kieran Dowell and Callum Connolly - take on Mexico in the Toulon Tournament final on Saturday (6.30pm kick-off).
The showdown comes just a year after Kenny played an integral role in England’s FIFA U20 World Cup success in South Korea. The defender featured in all seven games in the competition, as Paul Simpson’s side secured England’s first global tournament triumph since 1966.
Victory on Saturday would cap what Kenny describes as “a great season all in all”. He made 27 first-team appearances for the Blues during the campaign – and displayed impressive composure and maturity when deputising for Seamus Coleman at right-back, while the Republic of Ireland skipper was sidelined with a broken leg.
The 21-year-old insists, however, that he will not be getting carried away and says he remains as focused as ever on developing his game.
“There is always room for improvement,” Kenny told evertontv. “I have had some tough parts. But when I step out of it and look at how far I have come from the start of the season, I have enjoyed the journey. I have had ups and downs and have a lot of learning to do but I have loved every minute of it.
“I have improved my defending a lot more. I have come up against some top wingers and have had some tough times and good times. I am not where I want to be, so I have loads of room for improvement.
“But, all in all, I have enjoyed it and learned a lot.”
Kenny – who joined Everton’s Academy at the age of nine – is part of an Everton quartet in the England Under-21 squad that will bid to secure a third straight Toulon Tournament triumph for the Young Lions. Connolly, who got on the scoresheet in the 3-1 semi-final win over Scotland, Davies and Dowell are also among Aidy Boothroyd’s charges.
A win over Mexico at the Stade Francis Turcan in Martigues would also complete a hat-trick of international tournament victories for Kenny, who won 2014 the Under-17 European Championships in Holland – netting the shootout-winning penalty in the final against the host nation.
While Kenny’s success in international finals has showcased his ability to perform under pressure, the Kirkdale-born defender believes his experience of playing at the highest level for the Toffees last season has elevated his game to another level.
“You are coming up against top players all the time,” he said. “I have learned a lot, learned to deal with the pressure and the circumstances we were under. I can only come out of that better.
“When you get your chance, you have to take it and that is what all the young lads have done this season – and I am made up for everyone else, too.”