England boss Sam Allardyce says the career ‘journey’ of Michail Antonio led to the former Sheffield Wednesday winger being handed his first international call-up.
Antonio was the surprise inclusion in Allardyce’s first squad and the only new face reporting for England duty this week.
The 26-year-old has netted two goals in his last two games for West Ham United this season, including a fine header in defeat at Manchester City.
And Allardyce believes he is worthy of his place in the England squad.
“The journey,” he said, when asked to explain why he selected Antonio.
“The quality of the player that has shown through in every league he has played in.
“The impact he had at the end of last season and the start of this, his attacking flair, his quality for final-third delivery, and his goal record from a wide position.
“I think that that journey is something that deserves to be in this squad and me to have a look at as a potential player going forward.
“It shows if you’ve got guts and determination and desire, how much it means.... then he goes forward and creates a career for him which finally ends in the Premier League and finally with us in this squad.”
Antonio made 84 appearances for the Owls, scoring 17 goals over an initial loan period and a full time stint with the club following his switch from Reading.
He moved to Nottingham Forest for a reported £1.5million before joining West Ham in a £7m switch a year ago.
Ex-Owls loanee Ross Barkley was dropped from the England squad by Allardyce.