By Nick Purewal, PA
Thomas Frank hailed Gareth Southgate’s classy touch of allowing the Brentford manager to break the news to Ivan Toney that he had made the England squad.
Clinical striker Toney earned his maiden England call-up on Thursday, with the 26-year-old now eyeing the chance to push for a spot at November’s World Cup.
Toney became Brentford’s first England pick in 83 years, leaving the west Londoners in buoyant mood ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Arsenal.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) September 16, 2022
And the Bees’ Danish manager Frank made a point of thanking Southgate for allowing him to share in Toney’s special moment.
“I’m very, very pleased, but I don’t think I can beat the happiness of Ivan,” said Frank.
“But there’s a nice little touch to the story, I would say, and that’s that Gareth Southgate just showed how great a man he is.
“He texted me earlier in the morning and said ‘Thomas, you can deliver the news to Ivan’.
“It’s not often that we as head coaches or managers can bring the good news.
“It’s a lot of time that we’re having to be hard on them, that maybe they are not playing. It’s so rare to be able to be completely positive.
“I’ve said many times it’s 90 per cent suffering and 10 per cent joy. And that was definitely a very joyful moment to be able to call him and give him the good message.
“It’s not often Ivan is speechless, but he was laughing and just very happy. And I think that’s a wonderful story.
“He’s a very confident guy and the journey has definitely not been straightforward for him. I know he dreamt about being an England international since he was a kid.
“Of course the path to the first call-up took a few detours, so that’s incredible.”
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) September 15, 2022
Toney came through Northampton’s set-up before making the move to Newcastle, but after six loan stints in three years he moved on.
The powerful striker shone at Peterborough before stepping up to Brentford, helping the Bees rise to their maiden Premier League stint.
Toney has already fired five goals in the new Premier League campaign, and Frank backed him for a World Cup spot.
“It’s up to Gareth Southgate of course, but if I were putting together a squad I would pick him,” said Frank.
“I haven’t followed Tammy Abraham closely enough in Roma, but I know definitely that Ivan has a lot to offer. His ability in the box and his link-up play is at a very, very high international level.
“And I definitely think Ivan’s potential is very much not at its top yet. The sky’s the limit, I would say.
“I think this is also a much bigger moment for Brentford than people understand, especially if you’ve been here for a long time.
“Just 15 years ago, we were bottom of League Two, we played MK Dons at home and lost 3-0 in front of 4,000 fans.
“Now, 15 years later, we get our first England international in 83 years, and we are playing our second season in the Premier League.
“So it’s a remarkable story, and you can see the joy, and the proud eyes when I speak to people in the club and around fans. It’s very big.”