With Callum Wilson’s exploits for Bournemouth earning him his first England call-up, we take a look at how the boy from Coventry has fulfilled a lifelong dream.
Following his England call-up, Callum Wilson spoke about how it was a dream come true,“I found out when the manager called me and let me know. I was about to jump in the shower and then I got told I was in the England squad! The first thing I did was contact my family and friends.”, he said. One thing clearly evident from his mannerism is that the former Coventry man still has his feet firmly on the ground.
His route to the Premier League hasn’t been the traditional youth team to first team routine that so many young players take, nor is it a case of a foreign player making waves having signed from another league. Instead in 2011, Wilson was grinding it out in non-league football, on loan at Kettering Town from boyhood club Coventry City. His rise ever since has been nothing short of sensational.
Following two loan spells at Kettering and Tamworth, Wilson established himself in the Coventry team, scoring 22 goals – being voted into the PFA League One Team of the year in the process. The very next season, Wilson was at it again, this time racking up 20 goals as Bournemouth earned promotion to the Premier League for the first time ever. When quizzed on the subject, the man himself says he never had any doubts about his ability, “I always said I would play in the Premier League. I knew I had the ability.”
Even after having made the jump to the top-flight, Wilson has had his fair share of poor luck. Just a month post his Premier League bow, he ruptured the ACL in his right knee against Stoke in September and was sidelined for 6 months, having started with a hat-trick in August. He made his return towards the end of the season and started the next season fairly well. Even more cruelly for Wilson, though, he once again ruptured an ACL, this time in his left knee halfway into the next season(February 2017), relegating him to the stands for a further 6 months.
The second time was particularly painful,“When I was injured he was wearing everyone else’s shirt but mine. He liked Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He had Nathan Aké from Bournemouth. One day he said: ‘Daddy, I want a Josh King shirt.’ “, Wilson said in an interview post his return, evidence of how even little things can hurt a lot when you’re out injured.
Having completed his 6 month rehab, it is finally this season that Wilson has hit his stride once again, earning back his place in the team and contributing to Bournemouth’s fabulous start to the league. Indeed, the Cherries complete the top 6 with 20 points, ahead of Watford and Manchester United on goal difference. His return is made even more impressive by the fact that just 2 game-weeks ago, Wilson was the player with the highest goal-involvement in the league at staggering 10 goals (6 goals, 4 assists), level with Eden Hazard. While it’s true some players never recover from cruciate ligament injuries, Wilson is looking more and more like a rather exceptional exception – having ruptured two and recovered from both. Gareth Southgate too, spoke about him in glowing terms following the squad-reveal, saying how “He’s been involved with either scoring or assists, with a high number of goals this season, so it’s a good opportunity for us to have a look at him and see how he fits into what we do, and for him to get a feel of working with the senior team.”. Clearly effusive in his praise for the striker, it’s not hard to understand why.
Wilson’s tale is extraordinary of the highest order, not for his talent but for the way he has overcome every possible road-block on his way to earning a call up for his country, a dream he has fulfilled in the most deserved as well as the most dramatic of circumstances. Non-league football, the Premier League, career-ending injuries and now an England call up – he has seen it all.
Having suffered, recovered, fallen back down and risen again – it’s hard to argue Calum Wilson doesn’t deserve anything and everything he is getting at the moment.