Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Tyrone Mings Call-Up by England Makes up for Early Series of Rejections

Tyrone Mings Call-Up by England Makes up for Early Series of Rejections

Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 - 06:30
Tyrone Mings has been a formidable presence for Aston Villa this season. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP
London - James Stuart
Last Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after helping Aston Villa beat Everton in front of Gareth Southgate, a live television audience and more than 41,000 spectators, Tyrone Mings was back where it all started, at Hardenhuish Park, in Wiltshire, watching Chippenham face Weymouth in the National League south among 768 others.

To say Chippenham is where it all started is not quite true. Mings got his big break there in 2012, when Ipswich invited him to drive his Citroën Saxo to Suffolk for a trial, but before that he played for Yate Town, another non-league club in the south-west, and had also been part of Southampton’s academy, only to be released at the age of 16.

Rejection was in danger of becoming something a theme in those days. At one stage – and he would later laugh about this with Adie, his father – Mings was turned down for a job in his local One Stop corner shop because of his lack of experience.

He had more success pulling pints in the White Hart near Chippenham and applying to work as a mortgage adviser with London & Country’s Bath Office, where he was earning £15,000 a year to go with the £45 a week he was picking up in the non‑league game.

With all of that in mind, it is easy to see why Mings talked about it being “a long journey to get to this point” when he pulled up a chair at Villa’s training ground, with a big grin on his face and his eyes sparkling, and reflected on the news he had been called up to the England squad for the first time.

The 26-year-old thought it was a prank. “I got a text when I came in from training from the England player liaison officer, Emily. I texted back saying: ‘Oh shit.’ Excuse my language. She then called me and said: ‘I’m not joking.’ It was only when I spoke to her, I knew she was being serious.”

Mings has been on England’s radar for a while. Southgate watched him last season in a 2-1 victory over Blackburn in March, when Jack Grealish and Tammy Abraham were also in his thoughts, and the England manager or his assistant, Steve Holland, have seen Villa’s three Premier League games this season, during which Mings has been hugely impressive. Tall, quick, combative and comfortable on the ball, he ticks a lot of boxes for a central defender, especially as he is left-footed.

Even so, England recognition represents a remarkable turnaround for a player who made 10 Premier League starts for Bournemouth after joining from Ipswich in 2015. Injuries played their part in that statistic – Mings snapped his cruciate ligament six minutes into his first appearance for the club and, much to his annoyance, later spent seven months on the sidelines with a back problem he felt should have been resolved within seven weeks.

Yet aside from those long and lonely months trying to get back – Mings ended up working with a psychologist as well as the club’s medical staff because of how low he felt – there is no getting away from the fact there were also plenty of occasions when he was fit and desperate to play at Bournemouth but not deemed good enough to be in the team.

Disillusioned and frustrated, Mings pushed hard to go out on loan in January and his wish was granted on deadline day, when he signed for Villa following negotiations between the clubs that were far from straightforward. Over the course of the next four months, which culminated in promotion to the Premier League via the play‑offs, Mings was a revelation.

A natural leader, he quickly formed a close relationship with Villa’s assistant head coach, John Terry, who knows a thing or two about playing at centre-back and would stress to Mings how important it was for a player in that position “to go through the game without being seen”. Mings, though, was being noticed for all the right reasons.

Although a few eyebrows were raised this summer when it was announced Villa had signed Mings permanently for a fee that could rise to as much as £26.5m, it is already looking like money well spent.

Three games into the season and the West Country boy who has never forgotten his roots is on his way to St George’s Park.

The Guardian Sport

Editor Picks

Multimedia