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Hudson-Odoi lauds influence of 'close friend' Sancho on his career

2:30 AM GMT+4 25/03/2019
Jadon Sancho Hudson-Odoi England
The teen sensation has dismissed claims that he is impatient for chances with his club, having made his debut for the Three Lions at Wembley Stadium

England debutant Callum Hudson-Odoi has lauded the influence of his friend Jadon Sancho on his career.

Hudson-Odoi came on for Raheem Sterling in the 70th minute of Friday's 5-0 win over Czech Republic in a Euro 2020 qualifier and had an immediate impact, as his shot led to Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas putting the ball into his own goal.

At 18 and 135 days, Hudson-Odoi became the youngest player to make his England debut in a competitive match, beating the record set by Duncan Edwards in 1955.

Hudson-Odoi has credited fellow wonderkid Sancho – who is in the midst of a stellar season at Borussia Dortmund – for helping him reach such a high level at a young age. 

"We have known each other since we were very young," Hudson-Odoi said of Sancho. "We used to play against each other and we were always close friends, even when we played against each other. No matter whether it was Chelsea against Watford, where we used to play against each other.

"We have always talked to each other off the pitch, called each other, speak to each other, see how the other one is doing and he has had a great season. Since I have been here with England, he has helped me from day one, always made me feel comfortable and confident.

"Having a friend like that is amazing, just to bring you into the team and help yourself and be yourself. It is amazing. From [a] young [age], I have been the same. We have both been playing as we did on the street, that's just how we play.

"We have been playing as we did in the park and cages. We have that raw mentality just to go at defenders. Be confident, be yourself, don't be shy in front of anyone. That's great that we have the confidence and ability to do that and you never know [what can happen]."

Like Sancho, Hudson-Odoi may have the opportunity to leave a top English club for one of Germany's top sides, as Bayern Munich continue their pursuit of the Chelsea youngster.

Hudson-Odoi handed in a transfer request in the January transfer window to Chelsea's director Marina Graniskovaia, after Bayern's £35 million ($46m) bid, and he has less than 18 months to run on his current contract at Stamford Bridge.

That request was denied but the situation has led to increased calls for Maurizio Sarri to play Hudson-Odoi, with the Italian manager still under pressure at the club.

Despite handing in that transfer demand, Hudson-Odoi denies that he has been impatient in his young career.

"I am not impatient in that way," Hudson-Odoi continued. "I am always keen to play the game and love playing football, but at times you have got to remain patient and wait for your time to come. Hopefully, many more will come."

England manager Gareth Southgate said that he considered starting Hudson-Odoi against the Czechs, as the Three Lions boss believes the teenager is ready for the international stage despite having yet to start a Premier League game.

With a sold-out crowd of 82,575 at Wembley Stadium watching his international debut, Hudson-Odoi said that Southgate told him to play as he does for Chelsea,

"He told me to go on the pitch and express yourself. To be how you are at your club, just do what you normally do," Hudson-Odoi said.

"When I was about to come on I thought, 'There is no point in being nervous or shy, just do what you normally do'.

"Be confident and that's what I came on and tried to do. I am delighted to have made my debut. I want to thank everybody who helped me to get where I am today.

"To get the call to come onto the pitch was absolutely crazy and I am absolutely delighted.

It didn't take long for Hudson-Odoi to show what he could do, as his curling effort was parried by goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka into the path of Kalas, who deflected the ball into his own net for England's fifth goal. 

"I saw an opportunity to get at the defender, it was really open and I was in a one-versus-one situation," Hudson-Odoi said of the 84th-minute goal.

"I thought to myself, 'go forward'. I got the shot off, it rebounded off the defender and went in so I am delighted for that.

"It is about the team's performance today, it was a great performance and that's why we got the 5-0 victory."

England's Under-21 coach Aidy Boothroyd lost Hudson-Odoi to Southgate's senior squad ahead of his side's 1-1 draw against Poland. However, Boothroyd has said he is keen to consider Hudson-Odoi for this summer's U-21 Euro 2019 tournament.

Hudson-Odoi says dropping down a level won't be a problem for the summer if called, having now made his senior debut before his U-21 debut.

"Going up to Bristol for the Under-21s, that's initially where I was supposed to be," Hudson-Odoi said.

"I was intending to stay there and be with them. When I got the call up to the first team, I just couldn't believe it. I thought, 'wow, is this serious?'

"I am very happy to get the opportunity to come here and work with all the staff and these players. They are great players as well, I am enjoying every moment. I always had the same mentality whatever the age group is.

"Whether it is U-18s, U-21s, first team or whatever it is, I still have the same mentality. I am not going to change because I have had one game for the first team or anything like that. I will go over there, be humble and be the same way.

"I will work hard as always. If I go over there, I will be the same way as I have been and I will be confident and be myself."