Saints youngster Josh Sims has described scoring on his England Under-17 debut as his ‘best moment in football’.
The Southampton Under-18 winger flew out as a late replacement with the rest of the squad to Portugal for the Algarve tournament earlier this week and began their assault on the competition with a clash against Holland.
Sims capitalised on being named in the Young Lions’ starting line-up against the Dutch at the Estadio Municipal, opening the scoring with a second-half finish after breaking clear of the opposition’s defence.
The starlet capped off a fine England bow when he assisted the second goal in a two-nil victory.
After such an encouraging beginning on the international stage, Sims selflessly paid tribute to his young teammates who helped ease him into the England set-up, which gave him the confidence to put on a fine display.
The 17-year-old told TheFA.com: “I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect but the boys have been great, they have made me feel really welcome and I don’t feel like the new guy at all.
“Once the team was named, they were all wishing me good luck and then once I got my first touch, it felt like any other and I got into it and was fine.
“I made a couple of early runs down the line and felt confident.”
Undoubtedly a huge point in the early stages of his footballing life, Sims revealed that when the goal arrived it was a shock to the extent where the moment was mostly hard to recall.
He recalled: “I made my move and met that great ball from Dael Fry, and I was just so happy to get that goal.
“It was my best moment so far in football, but I couldn’t really remember it all until we watched it back in the debrief meeting. I can only remember actually finishing it in my head but other than that, it was a blur.
“In the first half, I closed the centre-half down and I noticed that he got a bit nervous and realised then that he doesn’t like being pressured.
“Then when he got the ball with his back to me from the keeper, I quickly closed him down and won the ball, then spotted Josh and squared it for him to finish.
“The keeper made it easy for me, and it was a hard angle for me to score from, so I was always looking to pass it across to Josh.”
Sims is refusing to lose focus, though, and is now moving onto his next targets – an Elite Qualifying Round place and the opportunity to help fire England into this year’s European Championships.
Despite his grounded approach, Josh couldn’t disguise his joy at initially being called up and how his involvement with England has progressed in such a short period.
Sims concluded: “We have two games left. We’ve won only one match, so there is a long way to go.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to produce another two good performances and force my way into the squad for the Elites next month and help us qualify for the European Championship.
“I was over the moon to just be included in this tournament, so if I could help us qualify and then get picked for the Euros, it would be unbelievable.
“I knew I was on the standby list, and I was so happy then just to receive that call. It was my dad’s e-mail that The FA had, so I was asking him every day if he had heard anything else.
“It was last Friday when I had just finished training when my coach at Southampton pulled me aside and told me I was coming here. So I quickly rushed home and packed to meet up with the squad on the Saturday.
“Coming away with England is everything I have dreamed of. I’ve fitted in perfectly with the lads and getting the goal on my debut - it has been perfect."