By Rob Kelly
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has hailed the “unbelievable” experience of starring for England at this summer’s European Championship.
The 18-year-old had never made a senior appearance for the national team before his call-up to Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for the tournament.
Despite his relative inexperience, the teenager started England’s opening match against France and stepped off the bench against Sweden and Ukraine - and he loved every moment.
“It was everything I expected and a bit more - it was an amazing experience all round,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Arsenal Player.
“Obviously it was my first involvement in a senior England squad, and for it to be at a massive tournament like the Euros - well, it doesn’t get much better than that. It was brilliant to be in and around the squad and to train with the players I trained with. I learnt a lot from it.
“I didn't expect to play, but then I didn't expect to go in the first place! It was all a bit of a surprise but I tried to take it in my stride. I was grateful for every minute that I got on the pitch and the whole experience was unbelievable.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain says the gravity of the situation only dawned on him moments before kick off against France.
“When you're in the stadium it feels like every other game, but when we broke out after the national anthem we did the team picture,” he said.
“It was just before kick off and there were a few people stretching, and it hit me that every one of my mates was probably watching at the pub I had watched [the World Cup] at two years ago.
“You realise that everyone in England is probably watching, and millions of people around the world are too.
“That was when I realised it was a massive occasion and I was buzzing when it sank in. It makes you want to achieve and prove yourself.”
Watch the full interview with Alex on Arsenal Player now.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source