Godfrey On How Evertonians Played Role In 'Dream' England Call-Up

Ben Godfrey says the support of Evertonians and Club staff helped to inspire his exceptional debut season with the Blues and his "dream" first senior England call-up.

The 23-year-old defender has been named in Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man squad for this summer’s European Championship, with Toffees teammates Jordan Pickford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin also included.

Godfrey has been recognised after an excellent 2020/21 campaign, which saw him win Everton's Young Player of the Season award.

Godfrey’s whole-hearted, uncompromising performances have seen him swiftly emerge as a fans’ favourite at Goodison Park.

Speaking exclusively to after his England selection, the centre-back opened up on the galvanising effect of the supporters’ enthusiastic backing – and paid tribute to the influence of manager Carlo Ancelotti and his coaching staff in elevating his game to a new level.

“I’ve seen the fans’ reaction to me getting into the England squad and it means a lot to me,” Godfrey said.

“It’s been great to have the support from Everton fans. They’ve been so supportive from the moment I joined Everton and it’s helped me to feel at home from day one.

“It’s been a positive season for me. I’ve joined a massive club like Everton and been able to play a lot of games, and now I’ve got an England call-up. It’s a dream come true.

“From the second I knew Everton were interested in signing me, I had so many people telling me what a brilliant club it is.

“I never had any doubt in joining and it’s been shown I made the right choice. I’ve learnt so much from the manager and coaching staff at the Club.

“We didn’t reach our goal to get into Europe, and I’m as disappointed about that as the fans, but we are moving in the right direction and I’m grateful for their backing.”

Godfrey revealed England manager Southgate personally called him to inform the defender of his maiden senior international selection.

The centre-back also expressed his pride in breaking the news to his mother and father, adding his phone has been “buzzing non-stop” since the squad announcement.

Southgate yesterday highlighted Godfrey's versatility as a key attribute. In making 39 appearances for Everton across all competitions in 2020/21, Godfrey excelled when deployed as a central defender and in both full-back positions.

“Gareth Southgate called me to tell me I was in the provisional squad and that he was looking forward to me joining up with the team,” Godfrey said.

“It was a surreal moment and I was straight on the phone to my mum and dad to share the news.

“It means so much to me and my family and is a reward for all of the hard work we’ve put in. Playing for England is something you dream about from a very young age and to be part of the squad means a lot.

“I was playing for England Under-21s not long ago but things happen quickly in football – both good and bad – and for me to get the progression into the senior squad shows there is a pathway for younger players to make the step up.

“The manager [Southgate] spoke about my versatility and I think being able to play across the backline for Everton during the season helped show that.

“I knew he was at Goodison for the game against Wolves [Everton’s 1-0 win on 19 May] but you don’t really think much about it as your focus is just to play well for Everton.

“There is a lot of competition to play for England as well so it’s about showing your quality over a long period of time.

“When you look at the quality of defenders we’ve got, and the players who didn’t make the squad, I know it is an achievement to have made the provisional squad, and now I just want to work hard and see what comes.”

Boss Southgate will finalise his 26-man squad on Tuesday 1 June. 

England play a friendly match against Austria at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium the following day and take on Romania in a warm-up game at the same venue on Sunday 6 June.

The Three Lions’ European Championship campaign then gets under way against Croatia on Saturday 12 June.

“I’m joining up with England on Saturday at Middlesbrough’s training ground in Darlington,” Godfrey added.

“I’m just looking forward to being part of the squad and showing what I can do. It will be nice to be with some familiar faces in Dom and Jordan, and I also know Aaron Ramsdale from my time in the Under-21s, but I’m told there’s a good bunch of lads in the squad so I’m sure I’ll be made to feel welcome.

“My phone has been buzzing non-stop since the announcement of my call-up. I know the manager is going to announce his final squad of 26 next week but that decision is not up to me.

“My focus now is to do what I always do – stay focused and work hard – and we’ll see what happens.”