Cole Palmer transforms from garden-wrecking to England’s rising superstar
The grass in the back garden of the Palmer household is finally safe now that Cole is more at home on the Wembley turf.
The Chelsea ace is hoping he can make his England debut at the national stadium on Friday night when the Three Lions take on Malta in their penultimate Euro 2024 qualifier.
He’s already played there for this season in the Community Shield, but that was for boyhood club Manchester City, and now he’s starring for Chelsea. It has been quite the journey from a Wythenshawe garden in south Manchester to preparing for a senior international at 21. But Palmer is quick to thank his father, Jermaine, for those training sessions which irked his mum as the grass got worn out in their backyard.
He said: “I was always breaking her pipes, but they were buzzing to be honest. It was a proud moment [to get a call up]. We were just all buzzing.
“Without my dad I probably wouldn’t be a footballer. He did numerous hours with me every night, working with me to try and make me a professional footballer. And yeah I am trying to repay him as much as I can.”
Palmer’s call up came on Sunday after he had just scored a huge penalty for Chelsea to earn them a point in an eight-goal thriller against his old club. His phone was pinging with messages from City pals. The reactions were mixed. But amongst them, there was a text confirming he’d been called up from the U21s by Gareth Southgate.
He said: “My phone was going crazy as I have City fans who are my mates and I have family and stuff, but then I read it and read it again. It was confirmed. I rang my dad straight away, and he was with my mum, so I told them.”
There were also messages exchanged with former City team-mate Rico Lewis, who had also been called up. But while Lewis was breaking through with City, Palmer felt he needed to move to Chelsea to get a real crack at first-team football.
He cites Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo as two of his footballing heroes which suggests his heart may have been for another Manchester club as a youngster. Now, it is all about Chelsea.
It is a chance he is taking with both hands given his fine start to life at Stamford Bridge. Palmer will let his football do the talking more than his words, judging by his press conference at St George’s Park this week.
He seemed shy and almost suspicious of questions as he faced talk of leaving Pep Guardiola for Mauricio Pochettino, his calmness on the penalty spot and his belief to reach the top.
But the fact he took the ball to score a stoppage-time penalty against his old club showed he’s got bottle. Then he poked his head into a mini team talk between his old team-mates who were standing over a free-kick moments later only to be pushed away by Erling Haaland.
He added: “I didn’t hear anything. I was just having a laugh to be honest. I think Erling found it pretty funny but I don’t think the others did.”
That shows his character. Actions speak louder than words for this young talent.