For England, the 4-0 victory over Malta was a routine win that served them to pick up the three points en route to Germany 2024. The Three Lions have now won all their opening three fixtures – against Italy, Ukraine, and Malta – as they are top of Group C. On Monday, they host North Macedonia as they look to complete a clean sweep in this June international window.
On the other hand, for one player in particular, this victory at the National Stadium will remain a moment to cherish forever.
Eberechi Eze, Crystal Palace’s 24-year-old midfielder, collected his first England cap 20 minutes from time.
He had a strong season with the Palace, scoring 10 goals and providing four assists in 40 games in all competitions – featuring in every single Premier League match in the process.
His strong performances caught the eye of England coach Gareth Southgate who had already intended to select him in the Euro 2020 provisional squad list before a serious Achilles injury dashed Eze’s hopes of featuring in the biggest European football tournament.
Nonetheless, he still managed to return to his best form with the England manager handing him a well-deserved first appearance with the Three Lions.
Asked about how important is this game to help him launch his international career, Eze said that this match will help him grow more as a player.
“This Malta game is very important to me because it will help me improve and mature as a player, which eventually will help me play more in games like these,” Eze told the Times of Malta.
Four teams released him before joining Crystal Palace, including Arsenal who cut him off at the age of 13 because he was deemed too small.
Fulham, Reading, and Millwall also did not have enough belief in him to make it as a professional player, having laid him off too.
Eze, who is now linked with a transfer move to bigger Premier League clubs including Tottenham Hotspur, was proud to make his England debut before his family who managed to travel for this game.
“Malta will take a special place in my heart having made my international debut here and in front of my family,” he explained.
“I am glad they managed to come over for this game.”
He put up quite a solid shift since he replaced James Maddison of Leicester City, with 93% passing accuracy from 21 touches, two key passes, and won three ground duels.
Eze will now hope there is more to come from him tomorrow when England will look to make it four from four tomorrow when they cross swords with North Macedonia at Old Trafford.
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