After Conor Gallagher made his England debut on Monday night it would be easy to think the youngster had coasted to his meteoric rise.
His form for Crystal Palace this season, producing four goals and two assists in 10 Premier League appearances, rightfully had some believing that he was unfortunate to miss out on Gareth Southgate‘s squad the first time around.
After facing Czechia with the under-21 group however, Gallagher found himself being promoted to the senior England squad as the likes of Mason Mount and Jordan Henderson became unavailable for the Three Lions’ final World Cup qualifier.
Nevertheless, given this season’s form it had started to feel like a matter of time before the 21-year-old would earn his opportunity. Something that had not always been obvious in Chelsea‘s academy.
Nevertheless, given this season’s form it had started to feel like a matter of time before the 21-year-old would earn his opportunity. Something that had not always been obvious in Chelsea’s academy.
Gallagher’s brother, Josh, believes the early struggles led to the moment the Crystal Palace loanee was able to push.
He said: “When he was younger at Chelsea he had his moments with growing pains and stuff like that.
“You thought maybe he might struggle to get in here and he was slightly behind when he got his first scholar at Chelsea.
“Everyone was offered pros and he was one that wasn’t but since then he just kicked on from someone that was really fortunate to be given a scholarship.
“He forced himself to be a regular in the under-18 team that season and forced himself on the bench for the FA Youth Cup final. At the start he wasn’t involved in the squad. He made that progression.
“Then he was captain of the league team and was a big part of the FA Youth Cup team that won it, Reece James was captain that year.
“The year after that was the under-23s. He had a great year and from then on it was Charlton, Swansea, West Brom.”
Gallagher had firmly found his feet in a team that included the likes of Tariq Lamptey, Reece James, Marc Guehi, Billy Gilmour and Callum Hudson-Odoi, while Bukayo Saka came off the bench for Arsenal. In the 2018/19 season that followed the youngster was named Academy Player of the Year, and earned a Europa League medal after being included in Maurizio Sarri’s squad for the final.
Another crucial moment in sparking Gallagher’s progress was being part of the England under-17 World Cup winners in 2017.
Jake continued: “He was involved in the World Cup win, wasn’t involved a lot but was his first involvement with England.
“Ever since then it’s been 18s, 19s, 20s, 21s and now he’s doing really well in the Premier League with Palace and done really well with England as well and that’s given him his opportunity to go and play in the senior squad.
“We always realised he was good but for him to take the steps he has each year from Chelsea under-18s and getting that scholarship and going on for your pro contract. Making the step from 18s to 23s to the Championship on loan, and being fortunate to get a good loan move. Then did well, got to Swansea and pushed for the play-offs.
“He then obviously he made the step to the Premier League. With West Brom it didn’t work out quite as well as he hoped but he took the experience, learned and took that to Palace where he’s made the next step and proven he’s a top player.”