Calum Chambers is desperate to make the final of U21 European Championships with England and will have to beat Germany this evening to achieve it, the country of his club mentor.
The centre-back, 22, has featured in all three of England’s group stage fixtures and managed to keep two clean sheets alongside Swansea’s Alfie Mawson at the back.
Chambers, whose long-term future at Arsenal is still uncertain, has outlined his eagerness to show what he has learned from club captain Per Mertesacker when he goes up against the German’s compatriots this afternoon.
When questioned Chambers said, “The one player who has helped me a lot would be Per Mertesacker,” as quoted by the Daily Star.
“Being in the same position, he was almost like my mentor for a couple of years. I have never seen a player so professional, dedicated. For him mentally, every little thing he could do he did. I have never seen a player so professional, dedicated. For him mentally, every little thing he could do he did.
“That’s rubbed off on me, there were times when he would be looking at me and saying, ‘You could do this’ and that’s rubbed off. That’s helped me realise the little things you do, the tiny little one or two per cents, get you where you want to be.”
Chambers was a £16m arrival from Southampton three summers ago and Mertesacker took the youngster under his wing to help him improve. Despite going out on-loan and suffering relegation with Middlesbrough in the Premier League last season, regular minutes proved beneficial for the 22-year-old’s development.
“If I have a good tournament it’s great and I’ll be going back to Arsenal pre-season and doing the best I can and seeing what happens. But right now my focus is on England,” he added.
Chambers is set to face some of Germany’s highly-rated prospects including Max Meyer and former team-mate Serge Gnabry, who joined Bayern Munich from Werder Bremen this month after an excellent first season in the Bundesliga.
“I know him, trained with him for a few years at Arsenal. He’s a good player, a quality player, strong, quick, skillful, so we will focus on that and how to deal with that.
“He’s done well. He’s always been very professional and when he wasn’t getting as much game-time at Arsenal he was doing a lot off the pitch to keep himself going. He’s a good guy, I know him well. I’m pleased for him, no surprises.”
It’s unlikely that the encounter will get to this stage but if penalties are needed to decide a winner, Chambers will be hoping to take a spot-kick himself.
“If it comes to it, yeah absolutely. We had a practice penalty shootout against Iceland. I took one then and scored. I haven’t taken a penalty at senior level but I took one in the FA Youth Cup against Bradford, away. I scored that one too, so it’s two out of two. I want to keep that going.”
The semi-final clash between England U21 and Germany U21 kicks off at 5pm BST.