Ivan Toney says he has “made his dream a reality” after getting his first England cap in the European qualifying victory over Ukraine on Sunday.
The 27-year-old had previously been called up by Gareth Southgate last September, but didn’t make an appearance in the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany.
In February Toney accepted breaking Football Association betting rules and could face a potential ban from the game.
The Brentford striker is the second-highest English goalscorer in the Premier League – only behind captain Harry Kane – and the first player from the Bees to make an England appearance since Les Smith in 1939.
“With a player like Harry Kane in front of you it’s always going to be tough – he’s one of the best strikers in the world”, Toney said after coming on as an 81st-minute substitute in the 2-0 win.
“All I can keep doing is keep working hard and when my chance comes, take it with two hands. I did that today and thankfully I got my cap, it means a lot.
“Of course, you’re going to be itching to get the ball in the back of the net but the main thing is doing things right, trying to see the game out and getting three points which is obviously the main thing – and the aim of the game.
“When you’re not playing you’ve got to do that – make sure you’re working hard and keep progressing. You have to keep your name ringing around the manager’s mind and when he gives you the chance you’ve got to take it.”
Toney started his career at League Two side Northampton Town before moving in 2015 to Premier League Newcastle United, where he made just four appearances.
Three years later he joined Peterborough in League One, helping them to promotion. Brentford signed Toney in 2020 where he then scored 31 goals to set the record for the most goals scored in a Championship season as the Bees went up through the play-offs.
“I was speaking about that the other day with my friend,” said Toney. “Three or four years ago I was in League One fighting to get promotion. Now I’m getting my cap for England.
“It’s been a massive journey, a long journey but to finally make it is a massive achievement. The hard work starts now and hopefully I can continue that.”