Callum Wilson got his first appearance for England in over three years in the 6-2 World Cup opening win against Iran on Monday. The striker came on for Harry Kane in the 76th minute with the match comfortably in England’s hands up 5-1.
There was more to come as Wilson teed up Jack Grealish in the 90th minute to get his first goal contribution since his debut goal against The United States in 2018. Wilson had an opportunity to a second goal to his international tally but unselfishly laid the ball on a plate for Grealish.
After the match, Wilson was asked about his assist. He revealed he was not tempted to go for goal with the pass being the right option. The Chronicle has published the following from the 30-year-old:
“No, always, as a striker, you want to score, you’re playing in a World Cup, you want to score a goal at the World Cup. But you have to make the right decision on the pitch, it’s about the team, not me as an individual.
“I think for me, in that moment, I made the decision to square it. It was the right one, the angle was closing up. You get repaid – that’s what happens in football, you give back and you receive as well so we’ll see how we go.
“As a player, as a striker you get given an opportunity, you’re coming away, you have to be ready to take it whether you’re first choice, second choice or third choice. There are players in the past, famous strikers you know, that didn’t play a minute in the group games and ended up becoming a hero and scoring in a World Cup final.
“So it’s a squad at the end of the day, it’s about the team and you just have to be ready when the opportunity arises. When you get given an opportunity, you have to make sure that you try and grasp it with both hands.
“We were winning the game, we were able to make a substitution, I came on and had a goal contribution, which is nice to add to the victory.”
Wilson is an experienced player who will not take this opportunity for granted. He came on and did exactly what Gareth Southgate would have wanted. The England boss declared he particularly liked England’s final goal saying:
“What I particularly liked was Jack Grealish’s goal with Callum Wilson on. He could have been selfish but he was thinking of the team even at that moment. I’m a miserable so and so. I should be more excited but I have to keep the team on the right track.”
Next up for England is a youthful United States team with a number of England-based players including Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Fulham duo Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson, and Leeds pair Tyler Roberts and Brenden Aaronson. They drew 1-1 against Wales today.
England is the class of the group and will provide a very difficult test for the inexperienced Americans. It’s probably four years too soon for the USA to do any damage. Though with youngsters Joe Scally, Yunus Musah, and Gio Reyna (son of former Sunderland midfielder Claudio) in tow, the future is brighter than it has been in years. The present is England’s.