On March 25th 2019, Jadon Sancho celebrated turning 19-years-old, with the England national football team in Montenegro gearing up for what could turn out to be his fifth international cap for country with an appearance at the Podgorica City Stadium for their second European Championship Group A Qualifier.
For my 19th birthday, I was in a casino in Blackpool tanked up on weak Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola preparing for a mingin’ night in a crap BnB a good half-mile from the promenade.
As Sancho enters the last year of his teens, his escalation into the pantheon of exciting young European talent - a real buzzword in footballer chatter - over the past year has been nothing of sensational.
Taking - along with compatriot and mate Reiss Nelson the following season - the brave decision to venture onto the continent, ignoring the temptation to stay with Manchester City and move to the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund in 2017, it’s hard to argue that Sancho would find himself in the same stratosphere had he remained at Eastlands. But to claim that his acceleration was guaranteed certainly undervalues his ascension across the past two seasons, when he was brought in to replace the departed Ousmane Dembele, now of Barcelona.
In the same summer, Reece Oxford, Sancho’s elder by 15 months, also accepted a move to Germany, going on loan Borussia Monchengladbach. Of course, as a centre-back, the West Ham loanee will never be as eye-catching, but across that same period of time Oxford, now in another loan spell at FC Augsburg has managed a total of 11 appearances.
Ryan Kent - now at Rangers on loan from Liverpool - ventured to SC Freiburg, and the Reds’ cross-town neighbours allowed Ademola Lookman to have a short stint at RB Leipzig as Sancho set out on his next career path. Together, Lookman and Kent accumulated 17 Bundesliga appearances between them.
Sancho has close to half a century - a figure he will almost certainly surpass before the end of the season, having been part of the furniture in every league game this season, only starting off the bench on seven occasions.
The October '18 Bundesliga Player of the Month, Sancho has been nothing short of deadly in the Dortmund attack. Alongside his eight domestic strikes, this season he has the joint-highest assist record in any of Europe’s top five leagues this season, with 12. Who he’s sharing that prestigious pedestal with? Lionel Messi.
The winger is contracted at die Schwarzgelben until 2022, and though the German outfit have done extremely well to harness his talent and place a great deal of faith in such a young player and afford him time on the big stage.
He was part of the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup winning England side. In the 2017 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, featuring in all six of the Finals games and creating or scoring a goal in each of them, Sancho was granted the title of Golden Player in Croatia for most valuable player of the tournament, following in the footsteps of only two Englishmen before him; Connor Wickham and Wayne Rooney.
On October 12th 2018, Sancho was granted his international first-team debut by (Sir) Gareth Southgate becoming the 1236th player for the England national side,. At the age of 18 years, six months, and 17 days he weaselled his way into the top-ten youngest Three Lions’ debutants
He’s now the 11th after Callum Hudson-Odoi took to the pitch on Friday at Wembley in the 5-0 rout of the Czech Republic.
Unless there are a series of drastic, unforeseen turn of events, - of which we as England fans hope to high heaven there aren’t - place good money on Sancho being in that squad for the multi-country Euros taking place in 2020. In his four appearances for England, he already has two assists and will be thirsty to add to that tally
Disregarding the UEFA Nations League competition, of which England currently find themselves in the semi-finals to take place in June in Portugal, based on individual and team form, before he turns 21-years-old Sancho could well be helping England to lift their first international tournament trophy since ‘66.
Now go and re-evaluate your life.