Gareth Southgate heaped praise on Liverpool defender Joe Gomez after he excelled on his full England debut against Brazil at Wembley on Tuesday night and admitted he has given him “plenty to think about”.
The 20-year-old turning in a display of calm authority that just nudged him ahead of fellow defenders John Stones and Harry Maguire in the man-of-the-match reckoning.
Southgate was happy to join in the chorus of praise for Gomez, who was one of several surprise call-ups for this double-header.
Having arrived a raw rookie, he returns to Liverpool with two caps, two clean sheets and a bright future.
"I thought they were all excellent but Joe was named man of the match and rightly so," Southgate said.
"I think his decision-making was outstanding. We know his athleticism is a real asset but to see his calmness in the face of such high-quality movement, dealing with through passes he had to read... superb.
"Joe has been one of the best young players in our system for a long time. He has come back from an ACL injury and showed great character and tonight he's had a wonderful experience. It gives me plenty to think about."
England may still have plenty to do if they are to mount a serious assault on next summer's World Cup but few will see them as the pushovers they became at Euro 2016 if they continue standing their ground in this fashion.
"The resilience collective and individually was absolutely outstanding," Southgate said. "I was probably more proud tonight than I was against Germany because we played, I think, the best team in the world, with their full team out, and come out with a really creditable result.
"We can look at areas we could improve but we found so many positives in terms of players who've performed at this level for the first time.
"They're not going to face more difficult tests than they've had in the two matches we've just had. We had the best defensive record in Europe in qualifying and we've played the best two teams in the world and not conceded.
"In terms of heart, resilience and spirit it was up there with anything I have been involved in."
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