Regardless of how things ended at Wembley, the Euros was an incredible time for football fans. The last 18 months had been plagued by the pandemic and this was the first time in what seemed like an age that people had come together and bonded through their love of football. Normality looked to have somewhat resumed even if some restrictions were in place.
What England did under Gareth Southgate will be remembered as a true Golden period in the country’s history of international football. Despite not winning a trophy, old captured the heart and imagination of the supporters, reaching a cup final. But in order to do so, he had to reach the knockout stages with a difficult group. Croatia, Scotland, and Czech Republic stood in their way and facing somewhat of a centre back crisis with Harry Maguire injured, the onus was on Aston Villa skipper Tyrone Mings to step up and be counted on.
The 28-year-old had only had a handful of appearances for the three lions before but was thrust into the biggest stage of his career at Wembley despite a lukewarm season at Villa Park, however it was encouraging to see him play regularly in a career hampered by recurring injuries. It was the Villains second successive season of Premier League football, and after almost being relegated twelve months prior they were tasked with another survival bid. While Dean Smith’s side thrived thanks to individual brilliance from Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins, Mings looked unreliable at times, making a few errors that led to goals and looking uncomfortable in possession, leaving England fans dreading the worst.
However, when Mings did don the three lion’s shirt for the first time against Croatia, he looked more than capable and rode that crest of a wave through the next game against Scotland — although the bet exchange did have them down as a clear favourite. Four points from their first two games and two clean sheets was an ideal start and Mings was instrumental in the route to the final, listening diligently to the rest of the back three and playing out competently under the system implemented by Southgate.
Although he played well when given the chance it is testament to the defender’s character that he didn’t throw his toys out of the pram when Harry Maguire came into the squad – ultimately finishing in the team of the tournament. Since then, he has been a mainstay in the squad, which has a tight-knit dressing room. The leadership from players like Mings and Conor Coady is so integral moving forward, every player knows their role regardless of how sporadic their minutes are on the pitch.
The next question for Mings is how does he make it into the starting 11 regularly? One positive aspect of the World Cup qualifiers so far is that Southgate has been experimenting with new systems and tactics against lesser opposition, an opportunity the 28-year-old has to grab with both hands in order to prize apart the current defence. There is already the continuity between him, Stones, and Walker who started the Euros but the reintroduction of Trent Alexander-Arnold provides greater versatility in terms of formations, and with the Liverpool fullbacks ability on dead balls and crosses going forward you’d expect Mings to be used on the right of the three to sweep up with his physical attributes and reading of the game. If the Villa captain can continue to perform for his club side there is no doubt he will get chances for England, the only task then is to run with it and play so well he is the first name on the team sheet.