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Goodbye the Stockport Iniesta, hello the Stockport Gazza.
Phil Foden wants to bring more than just a Paul Gascoigne hairstyle to Euro 2020.
The Manchester City youngster conjured up eve-of-tournament memories of England’s most famous maverick by going blond before England’s opening game against Croatia.
Foden, 21, was not born when Gazza sparkled at Euro ’96 but has seen plenty of him to be inspired.
“I remember watching highlights on the TV of Gazza,” Foden said. “He was an unbelievable player.
“The nation knows what he means to the country and what he did, so it would not be too bad if I tried to bring a bit of Gazza to the pitch.”
Phil Foden brought to mind images of Paul Gascoigne with his dyed blonde hair
And does he think the expectation will only be cranked up now people are calling him the Stockport Gazza?
“No, I don’t mind that,” he smiled. “He was a great player. I don’t mind (being called) that at all.”
And Foden is convinced he can go further than Gascoigne and help England lift their first major trophy in over half a century.
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He went on: “We are all feeling dead confident. Me, Mason (Mount), Reece (James) and Raz (Sterling) have all been in a Champions League final. We have all played at a great standard this year so I believe, as a group, we can push on to win it.
“We are just going to keep focused and just try and bring it home.”
Foden is widely acknowledged to be a player who will be key to England’s Euro fortunes yet it was less than a year ago when he was sent home from Reykjavik in disgrace after breaking Covid rules with Mason Greenwood and two Icelandic models.
He said: “Obviously I made a massive mistake but Gareth said if I keep just doing well and keep performing, I should get another opportunity.
“So I had to work hard for it and there are not many managers who would give you another opportunity so I have to thank Gareth a lot for giving me another chance.”
And if he comes a little restless in his hotel this time around, Foden has found something else to occupy his time.
Foden will be hoping to follow in Gascoigne's footsteps with his performances as well as his hair
(Image: EMPICS Sport)
He said: “When I was last with England, they gave us the Euro sticker collection to complete. So I had that in my room when I was bored. It was something to do and then I started enjoying it even more.
“I started collecting a few more and I still do that now.”
And if Foden can reproduce THAT Gazza goal – the flick and the finish against the Scots at Euro ’96 – he will be THE prize sticker in every England supporters’ Panini collection.
“I know which one you are on about – the one where he flicked it over his head and scored,” said Foden. “But I just remember watching so many highlights from the past and dreaming about wearing an England shirt. I feel really lucky to be here now and put the shirt on.”