Shropshire Star

Kobbie Mainoo recalls journey from Stockport pitches to Euros for England trio

Mainoo, Phil Foden and Cole Palmer all played grassroots football in the area.

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The football fields of Stockport have become unlikely places to have developed the skills of three of England’s Euro 2024 stars.

Phil Foden, Kobbie Mainoo and Cole Palmer all played grassroots football as they grew up in the area and the trio are now part of Gareth Southgate’s squad looking to secure trophy success in Germany.

Mainoo scored the decisive goal as Manchester United beat Foden and his Manchester City team-mates 2-1 to lift the FA Cup at the end of the season before the pair joined up as team-mates.

Palmer, meanwhile, left City for Chelsea last summer and enjoyed a fine first campaign at Stamford Bridge to earn his place in Southgate’s ranks.

“Yesterday we were talking about it, we were naming all the local teams that we used to play against,” Mainoo revealed when asked about growing up in Stockport.

“Cole Palmer as well because he is from a similar area, so we were talking about all our grassroot sides. It is nice to have someone whose near to where I lived.”

Foden has so far been unable to recreate his club form on the international stage but Mainoo is a big fan of the City man.

“On the ball, his first touch is crazy,” he added.

“He is so technical and I think everyone sees that in the Premier League and in internationals as well.”

Mainoo came on as a late substitute as England opened their Euro 2024 challenge with a tight 1-0 win over Group C rivals Serbia.

He is competing with the likes of Conor Gallagher and Trent Alexander-Arnold for a place alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in England’s midfield but revealed it could have been a different story, having reverted from a striker.

“Growing up, I always looked at attackers,” he replied when asked who his favourite players were as a child.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game during a Premier League win over Swansea
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his side’s second goal of the game during a Premier League win over Swansea (Martin Rickett/PA)

“Because I was a striker for most of my academy days. I love being on the ball and playing futsal I was always comfortable playing in tight areas and like to turn with the ball.

“Obviously, growing up a United fan, (Wayne) Rooney – it wasn’t so much just strikers, as well Ronaldinho I used to watch him on YouTube but it is mostly United players.

“I was getting a bit frustrated playing striker. I wasn’t getting the ball a lot and I love time with the ball so it was more natural to move back, play 10 a bit, then I played on the wing and then more recently played centre midfield.”

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