October 26th, 2016

Former Sky Blues striker Callum Wilson eyes full England call and Premier League survival

Former Sky Blues striker Callum Wilson eyes full England call and Premier League survival Former Sky Blues striker Callum Wilson eyes full England call and Premier League survival

IT HAS been quite a journey for Callum Wilson who in the space of just five years has risen from the Sky Blues academy to the Premier League and remains in contention for a full England call-up when fit again.

The Observer caught up with the young striker to discuss his reasons for leaving his hometown club, winning promotion to the top flight and becoming one of the best young strikers in the country.

Wilson broke Bournemouth’s record transfer fee when he signed for the Cherries in July 2014 for a fee believed to be in the region of £3m.

With that price tag came the pressure of having to produce the kind of form he had shown for the Sky Blues the previous season, but Wilson took everything in his stride and revealed his determination to repay the faith shown in him by new manager Eddie Howe.

“There was pressure on me during that big season at Coventry because the manager (Pressley) had put me in and it’s a big decision from him to put somebody in who’s never really been a proven goalscorer and never really played many games.

“At Bournemouth it was a different sort of pressure because I went in there not as an academy product, but as a senior player and the club’s most expensive player at the time.

“When you’re buying somebody from a division below to fill the boots of a player who’s scored 20+ goals a season before it’s a gamble.

“Eddie has taken a gamble on me but he’s shown great faith in me and he’s also helped improve me as a player.

“Ever since I’ve moved down to Bournemouth I’ve felt my all-round game has improved and I’m quite close to him too.

“We’ve got a good relationship and it’s nice that the manager believes in you. He’s had a massive impact on my progression as a player and career so far.”

Callum Wilson pictured with Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe. (s)

The step up from League One to the Championship was a big move for Wilson, but he reveals that he had the self confidence to succeed in the second tier.

“My mindset never changed. I always felt like I could make the step up. If I didn’t think I was ready I would never have made the decision to leave Coventry and move my family down to Bournemouth.

“I had this mindset that teams had just been promoted that I had been playing against the season before now in League One, so I thought if they’re going to do it why can’t I go and do it.

“I just wanted to hit the ground running in the same way I did at Coventry and basically get some goals because I knew that there was an expectation on me now.

“I’d scored a lot of goals the season before, Bournemouth paid a record fee so I knew that I had to perform well to show my worth.

“That was my motivation and I managed to get off to a flying start and with that comes the confidence to carry on throughout the season.”

As Wilson continued to find the back of the net for his new club, his impressive performances caught the eye of England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate, and a first international call-up followed in November last year.

“I’d been on a good run of form and I found out about my first call-up a few days before it was announced.

“An email was sent to the club and I also had a missed call off a number I didn’t know – I turns out that missed called was from Gareth Southgate!

“It was an honour to go and be a part of that squad and represent my country. It was a great achievement in my career.

“It was something that wasn’t on my agenda at the start of the season. I was 22 at the time and I did think my chance with the England Under-21s had gone.

“But when you get to represent your country in any sport it’s a great achievement and for me to be able to do that was another great moment in what was a great season.”

That unforgettable season got even better for Wilson and his Bournemouth team mates after they won promotion to the Premier League in style by winning the Championship title.

“It was crazy! When I moved to Bournemouth the club had finished just outside the play-offs the previous season and when I spoke to the manager before I signed he had plans to get us to the Premier League within the next two years.

“So I always knew this is a club that’s going in the right direction because they had great expectations, but for it to happen so early on in my Bournemouth career was fantastic really.

“I knew after speaking to the captain that if I were to score 20 goals and if the team played well around me in the same way that had the season before, then with a few additions we could have a push for the play-offs.

“But then we went and won the league which was a phenomenal achievement really. I got 23 goals that season and those goals as well as other strikers chipping in, helped the club win promotion.


“We also had a consistent starting eleven and we were determined to do well with that eleven. It was a great season and something I’ll never forget.”

Within the space of just 12 months Wilson had risen from the third tier to the top flight of English football.

But despite his sudden rise to the very top, Wilson’s attitude heading into the season remained the same as before.

“I said to myself that even though I was stepping up into another league, what I’d done for my summer in League One, I did the same for the Championship so I said I’d do the same for the summer heading into the Premier League.

“I had started the two previous seasons on fire and I thought I’d better stick to what I do and don’t change anything, don’t think too much about how they’re going to be better players and better teams, just take it all in my stride as I have done before.

“I set myself different targets but they are always ones that are achievable. From where I am at the minute my target is to score Premier League goals, then score a hat-trick.

His impressive performances this season caught they eye of the England selection and soon enough Roy Hodgson was spotted in stands at the Vitality Stadium.

“The manager has spoken to me and said that I was potentially going to get called up.

“At the time it was a bitter-sweet moment because I thought what a great achievement it would have been but then also I’m also not in a position to fulfil what was potentially in front of me.

“That was an extra bit of motivation to get fit and hopefully one day in the future try and achieve that full international, which would be even more of an honour having done it for the Under-21s.

“You always want to naturally progress and go on to the next level. The next step is playing international football.

As for Wilson’s immediate goals that he continues to set, he added: “At the moment I want to fit and ultimately the next step is trying to help Bournemouth retain their Premier League status.

“After that an international call-up is the next thing on my agenda – that would be the pinnacle of any players’ career to represent their country.

“When you’re living in it you don’t really get much time to reflect and dwell on what has happened and think back to where I’ve come from.

“It’s all a bit surreal to where I’ve come from and where I’ve come to.

“It just shows that if you believe in yourself and work hard at everything you can achieve the things you want to achieve in life.”