Ruben Loftus-Cheek may only have been included in the England squad for their friendlies against Germany and Brazil due to more senior players withdrawing, but the midfielder certainly grasped his opportunity with both hands.
The midfielder played 90 minutes against the world champions and produced a Man of the Match performance at Wembley, giving Gareth Southgate plenty of think about.
With the likes of Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Fabian Delph all pulling out of the squad, Loftus-Cheek was included by the England manager due to his performances for Crystal Palace this season.
And after his display against Germany, he has forced his way into Southgate’s thinking in terms of his World Cup squad.
But it’s been a tough few years for Loftus-Cheek.
The 21-year-old has failed to make the grade at Chelsea so far despite the Blues having numerous managers during his time at the club.
One manager that certainly didn’t give him much of a chance was Jose Mourinho.
The ‘Special One’ did hand Loftus-Cheek a start during a pre-season match against Sydney FC back in June 2015. However, Mourinho dragged him off after just 27 minutes for his poor performance.
What Mourinho said about Loftus-Cheek
And then, after the game, Mourinho proceeded to absolutely tear into the then 19-year-old for his application.
“Ruben was saying he had a pain in his back but what I was feeling was that he only had this pain when Sydney had the ball,” said Mourinho, whose side won 1-0 courtesy of Loïc Rémy.
“When Chelsea had the ball he was playing very well but when Sydney had the ball I think he was more impressed by watching [John] Mikel Obi and [Nemanja] Matic work, instead of him working himself. So, with Ruben, it’s one step back in terms of my relationship with him. If he doesn’t know what it means to play for me and Chelsea, it’s one step back.
“Ruben has to learn that, at 19, you have to run three times as much as the other guys and you have to play to your limits. You don’t have to play like a superstar with the ball at your feet because this is not the Under-18s.
"That competition is too easy for him. He’s too good for it, but I don’t accept that a player … when we don’t have the ball, doesn’t press, doesn’t have intensity and is waiting for other people to recover the ball. I don’t accept that of superstars, so why should I accept it in a 19-year-old kid? He has to learn what it takes to play for us.”
Mourinho was probably only being so harsh on Loftus-Cheek because he knew how talented he really was.
Two years on and it seems the central midfielder has learned his lesson. He certainly didn’t lack any motivation playing against the likes of Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan on Friday evening.
Then again, if you can’t motivate yourself for your England debut at Wembley against Germany, then you’ve got a serious problem.
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