England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is eternally grateful to mentor Duncan Ferguson and believes the ex-Scotland international would be happy for him even if he scores against the Scots in EURO 2020 on Friday.
The oldest rivals in international football are set to meet in a crunch Euros clash, with Gareth Southgate’s men buoyed by victory against Croatia as Scotland look to respond to their Group D loss to the Czech Republic.
Calvert-Lewin is likely to be an impact substitute given he is understudy to England captain Harry Kane, having only broken into the international set-up in the autumn after impressing with Everton.
Club great Ferguson has been key to his rise through the ranks and he does not believe the Toffees’ Scottish assistant manager would begrudge him a goal under the arch on Friday night.
“I think he’d be very happy for me,” Calvert-Lewin said. “It’s well known that he’s been a massive influence on me at Everton and he’s just wished me well.
“He texted me before our first game the other day just saying ‘all the best for the tournament’ and he wants me to score regardless of who it is against.”
Asked if he would dedicate a goal to him if he scored on Friday, he said: “I probably wouldn’t do that. But I do owe a lot to Big Dunc and what he’s done for me in my career so far.
“He’s a great fella and people get him wrong sometimes. He’s quite cool and calm and collected so I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to it as much as me.”
Calvert-Lewin is thankful to Ferguson for the extra time he has always put aside for him on the training field, as well as helping to teach him the mental aspect of the game.
That mental strength has helped the 2017 Under-20 World Cup winner become a full international with England, where he may be back-up but always prepared to take his chance.
“For me I just make sure I am ready,” Calvert-Lewin said. “Ready when I am called upon. Harry is the captain of the team and he is the man leading the line at the moment.
“At the start of the game I wish him all the best and want him to score. If he scores more than likely we win games.
“My role is to, at this moment in time, just be as ready as I can be for when I’m called upon.
“From a young boy I dreamed of playing for my country and coming to a major tournament, and as a young kid you dream of playing, perhaps not sitting on the bench. But if that’s my role then so be it and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”
Calvert-Lewin fondly remembers watching tournaments as a child, when he used to proudly show the England flag hung outside his bedroom window to friends at primary school.
The 24-year-old recalls Wayne Rooney shining for the Three Lions and found it surreal to call him a team-mate at Goodison Park.
“I was fortunate to be able to play with Wazza at Everton when he came and at first I was star-struck from watching him play as a kid and lead the line, and then to be able to play with him,” Calvert-Lewin said.
“I learned a lot from him and he was very good for me as a young player at the time. He helped me a lot.
“Like I say, I was very fortunate to be able to play and learn from him. To actually be able to do that I was very fortunate.”
England’s all-time top scorer Rooney was in the crowd against Croatia and will no doubt be keenly watching Friday’s clash with rivals Scotland.
“I think we are very cool about it,” Calvert-Lewin said of the approach to the clash.
“It is another game that we have to be absolutely prepared for, just like the first one. We are expecting a very tough game and are just preparing as we have been before the tournament until now.”