By Anton Toloui, Sky Sports News England Reporter
Last Updated: 06/06/18 12:55am
Sky Sports News’ England reporter Anton Toloui gives his behind-the-scenes take after meeting Gareth Southgate and his 23-man squad ahead of the World Cup.
Uno, Love Island and teabags…
Who would have thought those would be the dominant themes of my time with the England players on Tuesday afternoon when all 23 of the World Cup squad were put up for interview.
So… Uno, the numerical card-based game synonymous with bored families on a domestic camping trip, is a big part of the England players’ evenings.
“We have a cards school. Well, it’s Uno. We play it at Spurs and it was seamless when we started playing it here,” admitted Danny Rose when I spoke to him as part of Sky’s ‘Meet the Squad – Live’ show.
When you hear the words “cards school” my mind instantly goes back to the days of high-rolling poker games on long coach journeys that were synonymous with the dawn of Premier League footballers in the 90s.
But having spent time around this England squad compared to previous ones, it’s clear to see team bonding takes a different tact.
Love Island is the squad’s new talking point. The reality TV show is a big hit with most of the squad, with most far from happy with Monday’s “meh”, as Rose called it, series premiere. It appears, however, the age gap between the players and those in charge is highlighted by the ITV show.
“No. I’ve got a lot more time in my life to get back than watch that,” England manager Gareth Southgate insisted. It appears TV time is a subjective matter, just like in every household.
The highlight of the day for one member of the England squad came after the cameras stopped rolling.
Fabian Delph was presented with his own version of Yorkshire Tea to take to Russia after the interviews had finished.
Cue a delighted Delph, along with his mate and fellow Yorkshireman Danny Rose, walking around every camera, bystander and office at St George’s Park declaring how delighted he was with his new gift.
Regardless of the riches modern day footballers earn, it was amazing to see the little things that can make them so happy.
“It’s what my family has always drunk and now it has my name on it”, a beaming Delph told me. “I’ll put it on the shelf next to the Premier League winners’ medal.”
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