Alexander-Arnold’s mum says he still lives at home – and loves a kick around
Teenage England star Trent Alexander-Arnold was a GCSE student the last time he faced World Cup rivals Belgium, his proud mum revealed yesterday.
Dianne Alexander, 51, said the Liverpool player, 19, sat his exams abroad “by remote” so he could line up for his country’s under-16 team.
Now he has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s senior squad for the tournament in Russia with fellow young guns Marcus Rashford, 20, Dele Alli, 22, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, also 22.
Dianne still cannot believe her son is going to the World Cup after breaking into his hometown club’s first team as a regular this season.
“It is surreal,” she says. “Every little boy dreams of playing for England in that kit like Gary Lineker or Stevie Gerrard. I was thinking ‘Carry on son, that is never going to happen.’ But now it has.
"I said to someone today: ‘It is almost too good to be true.’
"I’m waiting for someone to knock on the door and say” ‘Guess what, this is a big joke’.
"But it’s not. It’s a dream come true.”
The call-up marks a meteoric rise for her footie-mad son, who still loves a kickabout in the garden with brothers Marcel, 16, and Tyler, – as long as he wins.
At just six years old, he got a lucky break at St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School in West Derby to attend a Liverpool FC training camp.
“They sent a few invites to my school, and they were like, ‘Who wants to go?’” Trent recalls. “Every lad in the class put their hands up, so the only fair way was to pick names out of a hat. Luckily my name was picked out.”
After just 30 minutes, a coach told Dianne to bring him for regular sessions at the club.
Trent has become a firm favourite this season, and fans say his 66 squad number could be a lucky omen for our World Cup bid.
First, there is the little matter of Liverpool’s Champions League Final clash against Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine, a week Saturday. Thinking about it makes Dianne smile.
“My son really is the boy next door,” she says. “We keep his feet on the ground. My boy is playing against Ronaldo? Are you having a laugh!
“I still cannot believe it. A friend told me, ‘Stevie Gerrard has written about Trent in his book’ and I said, ‘no way’.
“But I went into Asda and checked the page and there he is, writing about my boy. Now I have become ‘Trent’s mum’ and I am recognised, and so are his dad and brothers.”
Trent was playing for England’s under-16s in Belgium – our big group rivals at the World Cup – when he had to sit two GCSEs.
“We had to speak to the school and the exam board and he did GCSEs at the same time,” Dianne recalled.
“He sat two of the exams in Belgium. He got seven, in English, Maths, History, Sciences, Business Studies, I’m not sure which ones he did abroad but the teachers used to give lessons over Facetime.
"He has never given up on his education. We would not let him.”
Trent still lives at home with Dianne, a full-time mum, and businessman dad Michael Arnold, 56, and has no desire to leave.
Dianne jokes “life is too hectic for girlfriends” when he “has to get them past his mother”.
The youthful World Cup squad, which also includes Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, Spurs stars Harry Kane and Eric Dier, Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Man United’s Jesse Lingard, has an average age of just 26.
Trent posted a schoolboy portrait in an England shirt after the World Cup call came.
Dianne said: “He looks like a baby in that picture. We have always been sticklers for his school work and he knew that always had to come first when he was younger, and football second.
“We used to say ‘this could all come to an end’ so that’s why he took his GCSEs. He did his BTEC qualfications too. He stipulated that he wanted to do sport and got the qualifications to study at Loughborough.
“We used to tell him ‘if it does not work out, you will be on your own’. It is hard to take in that he is off to the World Cup.”
Family members will be in Russia to cheer him on but they have not had the chance to decide who will go as yet.
Sir Alex Ferguson once asked Trent why he had not tried to join Man United, where his uncle John Alexander was a club secretary.
But the youngster told him: “My mum doesn’t drive on motorways.”
The family’s home is close to Liverpool’s Melwood training ground and Trent would “peek the through the cracks” to see his heroes. On playing for England, he said: “To put on the white shirt one day would be incredible.”
Southgate said Trent’s first call up was “well deserved”, adding: “When we pick young players, it is not just because they are young.”
Trent will be in good company, with Marcus Rashford, 20, just as excited as his new team-mate.
Tweeting a picture of his mum, Melanie, Marcus wrote: "After years of you standing on the touchline in the cold and rain, we’re off to the World Cup!”
And fellow Man Utd star Ashley Young posted a photo of himself as a child in his England top.
His message was very simple. “Dreams do come true”.
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