Chocs away! Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been hitting the sweet spot thanks to munching Maltesers, and the Everton hotshot is set to continue his pre-match superstition ahead of potential England debut against Wales
- Dominic Calvert-Lewin is set to make his England debut against Wales
- He says it will be a ‘proud moment’ as he always saw himself playing for England
- Calvert-Lewin says that his parents cried tears of joy when he relayed the news
- The forward will complete his superstition of eating a Malteser before the game
What fuels the rise of the hottest young striker in England? Ability, certainly. Confidence and the faith of a top manager are also high up there. Now to that list we can add Maltesers.
It might be an odd superstition but Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Everton striker whose red-hot form should win him a first senior cap on Thursday, likes to munch his way through a bag of the chocolates before a game. It is a quirk that is serving him well.
Calvert-Lewin’s blistering start to the campaign, with nine goals in six appearances, has helped propel Everton to their best start since the 1890s but, more than anything, it has shown he is well and truly ready for the big time.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is ready to make his England debut on Thursday against Wales
His is a story all about graft, ferocious ambition and hard work. Calvert-Lewin grew up in Hillsborough, Sheffield — three roads from where Jamie Vardy lived — and his career has followed a similar path, scrapping away in non-League football before getting his break.
There were loans to Stalybridge Celtic and Northampton from Sheffield United. He got his cheek split open in his first proper game in men’s football, on Boxing Day 2014, but fought on and plundered two goals against Hyde United. It was a catalyst; the buzz of scoring incomparable.
‘I am a proud Englishman and proud every time I pull on the England shirt,’ said Calvert-Lewin, whose goal enabled the Under 20s to become world champions in June 2017.
‘Growing up, I always watched England and envisioned myself playing for England, so it is a very, very proud moment.’
He says it will be a ‘proud moment’ as he always ‘envisioned’ himself playing for England
It is likely that the forward will complete his superstition of eating a Malteser before the game
He found out last Thursday that his dream had come true, his phone buzzing with a message from the FA at the same time as that of club team-mates Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford. Later, there would be a message and warm words from Gareth Southgate.
It has been very emotional, with his parents crying tears of joy when he relayed the news, but this does not represent the 23-year-old having reached the summit of his ambitions.
For the last two seasons, he has been aching to transition from the Under 21s. And he won’t rest now he is here.
‘I’ve been playing in the Premier League for four years now,’ said Calvert-Lewin, who was signed by Everton Under 23 boss David Unsworth for £1.5million. ‘I have been slowly progressing, learning and maturing and it has been nice to know I have been on (Southgate’s) radar.
‘But I always knew to warrant a call-up it was important that I was doing my job: scoring goals. I knew that if I could add that to my game, it was the icing on the cake. I’m very privileged to be here because this is every kid’s dream. I have that opportunity and now I want to play well.’
Calvert-Lewin, with his edgy fashion sense, is not someone who lacks confidence. He took Everton’s No 9 shirt in the summer of 2019 as a statement of intent, but the thing that has had the biggest impact on his development recently is the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti.
Everton’s manager has likened Calvert-Lewin to Filippo Inzaghi, the former AC Milan striker who fired Ancelotti to a European Cup against Liverpool in 2007. Inzaghi’s great attribute was first-time finishing. It is no coincidence Calvert-Lewin’s nine goals this season have all been instinctive.
Carlo Ancelotti has likened Calvert-Lewin to Filippo Inzaghi, the former AC Milan striker
Inzaghi fired Ancelotti to a European Cup against Liverpool in 2007 while playing for AC Milan
‘To have a manager who has worked with top, top players in my position (is huge),’ said Calvert-Lewin. ‘It’s always nice to know, when he’s giving me information, that he’s coached these players before, so it’s important I take it on board.
‘But he’s also enabled me to fine-tune my game and told me to focus on different things. He’s told me to be the focal point, told me I’ve got the abilities and the tools to do it, and be the main man and lead the line. I’m evolving as a centre forward, learning my craft.
‘Beforehand, I was guilty of doing a lot of my best work away from goal. Now I’m focused on getting between the sticks and putting the ball in the back of the net, and that (Inzaghi) analogy from Carlo is more an emphasis on being in the right place at the right time.’
He is certainly in the right place at the right time now. Less than two years ago, Huddersfield and West Ham tried to take him on loan from Goodison Park when it looked as if Everton would go in the direction of trying to invest a huge fee in a central striker.
But Calvert-Lewin refused to blink and has made it his mission to be the main man for club and country. Ancelotti has put his faith in his powerful frame and now it appears Southgate — at least against Wales — will do the same.
‘When Carlo came in and said he was having me as a No 9 and he was not interested in bringing in anyone else, it was just another confidence boost,’ said Calvert-Lewin. ‘But I never stopped believing that I would get there eventually with the right work ethic. I’m grateful to be sat here now.’
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