Manchester United academy graduate Angel Gomes says he has no regrets over leaving Old Trafford as he receives his first England U21 call-up.
Gomes, 21, was tipped to break into the Man Utd first team after becoming the club’s youngest debutant since Duncan Edwards in 1953. The dazzling playmaker is also the youngest recipient of the club’s esteemed Jimmy Murphy Player of the Year award, as well as the first player born in the 2000s to appear in the Premier League.
However, with concerns over significant playing time at Old Trafford, Gomes rejected a contract extension and instead upped sticks for Lille last summer, where he was immediately loaned out to Boavista in the Portuguese top flight for the 2020/21 campaign.
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In total, Gomes featured 30 times (29 starts) at the Estadio do Bessa in the Primeira Liga, scoring six goals and registering three assists in a breakthrough campaign for the talented midfielder, which has caught the attention of Lille manager Jocelyn Gourvennec this term.
Already, Gomes has made four starts in Ligue 1 (and a further two substituted appearances) for the French champions, as well as two starts in the Champions League against Wolfsburg and Red Bull Salzburg, earning a first call-up to the England U21s as a result.
Speaking at a press conference after joining Lee Carsley’s squad for this month’s internationals, Gomes was in a reflective mood and gave his thoughts on his exit from Old Trafford last summer, insisting he has no regrets over the decision.
“Of course, you are leaving your home, family and friends,” he said.
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“You are leaving your home and that was the most difficult thing, knowing you are not going to be there any more. For me it was getting it out of your head and seeing the new challenge in front and tackle that.
“I wouldn’t say I doubted myself but there were times when you get upset and think back. In football there is no time for that.
“Of course, leaving the club you have grown up at and have been raised at is always difficult.
“There was a lot of pressure and a lot of negativity which came from that. it’s my job as a professional and a young player to be able to deal with that and continue doing what I’ve been raised to do – which is play football.
“My main focus was to show that on the pitch and leave the media and other things which come with it to the side.”