Ben Godfrey’s England call up only made Everton star more hungry to fulfil potential

Ben Godfrey will never forget the proud look from his parents when he FaceTimed back in May to tell them he had received his first England call up.

For Everton’s defender, this is just a step in his journey, not the end.

Although it is the path he visualized, he has also followed it with the support of his family and Rio Ferdinand.

Godfrey, 23 years old, may have moved from League Two at 17, to playing for the Three Lions, but that hasn’t satisfied him.

If he thinks he’s reached the top, it would be his parents Alex and Sharon who would help him get back down.

“I FaceTimed them and their faces will always stay with me,” Godfrey, a Toffees defender, said:

Godfrey joined Everton in the summer of 2020 from Norwich
Godfrey joined Everton in the summer of 2020 from Norwich

“They were just over the moon. It is a special feeling. They put a lot into the journey as well.

“They were buzzing for me.”

Godfrey got called up to Gareth Southgate’s provisional Euro 2020 squad in the summer and the York-born defender featured in the pre-tournament friendlies against Austria and Romania.

Southgate had to cut the squad down and Godfrey did not make the final cut.

“It gave me a taste of what it is like to be involved in it,” He stated.

“It is obviously great and a really proud moment for me and my family for me to be called up and something I will never forget.

“But when you have aimed to play for your country all your life and you do it then it can go a couple of ways.

“If anything getting cut from the squad just made me hungrier to improve as a player and showed me the levels I want to achieve, what I need to do and in no way shape or form has that made me think, ‘That’s it, it’s done’.

“It has driven me to practice even more and learn from it.

“My aim from now on is to be called up to the squad and to remain in there for major competitions. People who know me will understand that as well. It has only made me hungrier.

“That’s the mindset you have to have when you want to achieve great things.

“Going back to my family, they’re in that same mindset.

“If I was to ever let my feet come off the ground or take a few percent off my training or anything like that they would be the first ones to remind me of where I want to go on this journey.”

Godfrey made his first appearance of the season against Burnley on Monday
Godfrey made his first appearance of the season against Burnley

Godfrey’s performances and versatility in his debut season at Everton under Carlo Ancelotti earned him the call up.

This is all part of Godfrey’s rise as a talented young defender. He now hopes to shine under Rafa Benitez at the centre back.

“Everyone has bought into his ideas and his philosophy at the moment, it is never easy for a manager coming in and just having pre-season to get across the way he wants us to play,” Godfrey said.

It’s not an easy task, but he has done it unbelievably well. We have started well, it’s a long season, and he is taking the time to coach me, which I’ve really enjoyed.

“He’s worked with top players and won things himself, to have him as a coach is massive,” Godfrey said.

“I’m learning each and every day.”

From starting out at York City, being rejected by Middlesbrough and Leeds before going back to his hometown club to cut his teeth in League Two, Godfrey’s journey has been different to others.

He impressed and Norwich swooped in 2016 before a £25m move to Goodison Park last summer.

It was mum Sharon who encouraged him to return to York when he felt “unwanted”Godfrey agreed. This was the decision that would ultimately lead to his success.

“As all mothers do, they don’t want to see their sons going through that rejection period and being upset,” Godfrey said.

“When you are young and you are going through them ups and downs it all seems a million miles away but the reality is you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

“When I got that England call it was a special moment.”

Godfrey made his debut for England in May
Godfrey made his debut for England in May

His family, which includes sisters Levi and Sylvie, have supported him all the way. In tattoos, he pays tribute to them.

Godfrey visualizes every step along his journey. He learned this habit from Alex, his dad, who was a former rugby league player when he was young.

“I’m a massive believer in visualising what you want to achieve, writing your goals down, and visualising what it will be like when you achieve them,” He laughed.

“It is something I’ve done since I was a kid as well through my dad.

“When I was a kid, even at seven, eight, nine, 10, he would come up to my bedroom and talk to me about how I can visualise what I will do in a game the next day.

“That routine was set. It was only a few years ago that I realised it worked.

“Everything that I visualised and wanted to do I found myself achieving it or that I’m heading towards it.”

Godfrey is a confident character but his family keep his feet on the ground
Godfrey is a confident character but his family keep him humble

Ben Godfrey's England call up only made Everton star more hungry to fulfil potential

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He will no doubt have pictured himself on the plane to Qatar next summer for the World Cup.

“I can imagine it is in the aim of every young English lad who is playing at the minute,” Godfrey said.

“It is a natural thing to do.

“I’ve got a lot that I want to improve on and I’m going to work hard to perform consistently for Everton and hopefully put myself in with a chance of being involved in that World Cup.”

Godfrey recognizes the importance of his family, but he also has a mentor. Not a bad mentor, either.

Rio Ferdinand, an ex-defender for England and Manchester United, is always on Rio’s side thanks to their close relationship with the same agency.

“There are not many better mentors for a young defender to have,” He added.

“He could be doing a million other things, but he takes time to go through my clips with me, he always says to give him a shout.

“If I’m watching my clips and I see something I need to go through, he is only ever a text away.

“For me to soak up information off him is massive with his knowledge of the game and what he has achieved. I’ve got to continue to use him.”

Evertonians will be happy that Ferdinand failed to convince Manchester United of signing the defender.

“I’m sure the fans are grateful I’m at Everton,” He said.

Godfrey hopes he can continue learning under Benitez
Godfrey hopes he can continue learning under Benitez

Godfrey has his family behind him, the support of the Toffees, his visualisation techniques and an England great on the end of the phone any time he needs guidance.

There are still many superstitions he must go through before every game.

He will need to observe certain procedures when he enters the Villa Park dressing area ahead of Saturday’s teatime game between the Toffees & Aston Villa.

“We would be here for hours if I went through them all,” He stated.

“The strangest one, maybe it is that everything is done left before right so arm through a t-shirt, socks, shin pads, boot on.

“Just before the game kicks off there are four jumps and two shuffles side to side.

“Once you do your own little routine, you feel invincible and feel like, ‘I’m ready now’.”

Godfrey said he hopes to continue this routine for many more years for club and country.

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