Phil Foden ready for ‘biggest game’ of career ahead of Man City showdown in Euro 2024 final

Phil Foden said a win for England in the final of Euro 2024 would change his life.Phil Foden said a win for England in the final of Euro 2024 would change his life.
Phil Foden said a win for England in the final of Euro 2024 would change his life. | AFP via Getty Images
The Manchester City midfielder was superb against the Netherlands and said an England win over Spain would change his life.

Phil Foden has played in two Champions League finals, last-day Premier League deciders and all-Manchester FA Cup finals, but the Stockport star knows Sunday’s Euro 2024 showpiece will be the biggest stage of all.

England’s dramatic 2-1 win over the Netherlands on Wednesday night means Gareth Southgate’s side stand on the precipice of history once again, one game away from sporting immortality.

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The demands Pep Guardiola places on his players are high, but the scrutiny of an entire nation is something else entirely. “I feel like it’s going to be the biggest game of my career. The smile on my face, you can see I’m just delighted,” Foden told Sky Sports after the victory over the Dutch.

Few could have believed just a few weeks ago that Southgate’s stuttering stars would make it to a final against Spain. But England have slowly evolved throughout the campaign. Gone is the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment, gone is the ineffective 4-3-3 shape and gone is any thought of the Premier League’s standout performer playing in the wide areas.

The shift to a fluid 3-4-2-1 shape has undoubtedly seen a better standard of football from the Three Lions, with Foden’s positional switch perhaps the key component in that uplift. Paired with Jude Bellingham as a revolving no.10, Foden was excellent against the Netherlands.

The City midfielder popped up all over the pitch - the Dutch couldn’t handle him as he repeatedly picked up the ball on the half turn and drove towards the hoards of orange shirts. Twice Foden was just inches away from scoring when he was denied by the recovering run of Denzel Dumfries and the outside of the post.

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“I was a little unlucky and had a few close chances,” Foden reflected post-match. “But the main thing is the team winning. I feel like tonight was probably my best game in an England shirt.

“I feel like the last two games have been improvements and the position is helping me to get on the ball and get in dangerous areas. I was enjoying it out there, picking up spaces and looking more like myself, like I do for City, getting on the ball at the edge of the box and getting shots away.”

This was the Foden everyone hoped to see before the tournament and the best player for the world’s best club last season could ensure England are Europe’s best this summer.

But standing in their way are Spain, another side led by a City superstar. Rodri has been the tournament’s best player and his ability to dictate the pace and flow of games is something the Three Lions will have to counteract in Berlin on Sunday.

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“We believe in our ability,” Foden expressed. “We know Spain are a fantastic team with the way they keep the ball, but we also know our strengths. I’m looking forward to it and it would definitely change all our lives.”

Four of 22 expected starters in Sunday’s final play their club football at the Etihad and Foden, the man whose career has been honed by Guardiola, will hope his club manager heads back to pre-season training on Monday in a thoroughly miserable mood.

But any thoughts of preparing for the 2024/25 season are a long way off for City’s no.47. It has been seven years since he led England’s Under-17s to World Cup glory and even then there was talk that Foden would one day replicate that success at senior level. He’s just 90 minutes away from possibly making that dream a reality and ending 58 years of English heartbreak.

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