Michail Antonio has vowed to repay England boss Sam Allardyce’s faith in him by being a success at international level.
The uncapped 26-year-old West Ham striker was the stand-out inclusion in Allardyce’s first 23-man Three Lions squad named on Sunday night ahead of next weekend’s opening World Cup Group F qualifier in Slovakia.
Antonio has scored 10 goals in 29 appearances – including two in three outings this term – for the Hammers following his move from Championship side Nottingham Forest 12 months ago.
His performances have not gone unnoticed by Allardyce and he moved swiftly to help him achieve his ‘boyhood dream’ of playing for his country.
And Antonio, who was playing non-league football with Tooting & Mitcham in 2008, is looking to prove he can cut it at the highest level.
He told FATV: “The first day [of training] was really good. I came in and walked over to the gaffer to say ‘thank you for the opportunity’ and he said ‘there’s no need to thank me because you’ve done it on the pitch – now work hard and see if you can do it as an international player’.”
Antonio added: “The gaffer’s definitely taken that risk, and he’s shown his belief in me – and now I’ve got to show it to the world.
“One thing I’ve always believed in is never to give up, and to always have belief in yourself and that you can achieve things. Anything is possible in life, and that’s one thing I’ve always believed in.”
Punters can use their free bet to back Antonio to mark his first cap with a goal if he features in Slovakia and helps England in their quest to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.