Having helped England conquer the world once, Phil Foden is now itching to play his part once more as the Three Lions seek to scale football’s ultimate summit at the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals.

Already a four-time Premier League title winner, the 22-year-old’s progress at Club level has been little short of extraordinary ever since he made his senior City debut back in November 2017.

Under the inspired tutelage of Etihad manager Pep Guardiola, Foden has gone on to cement a deserved reputation for being one of English football’s brightest shining lights.

Despite his tender years, Foden has already amassed almost 200 games for his boyhood Club, scoring more 50 goals in the process.

And his impact and influence was further underlined when he signed a new five-year contract with City last month.

Little wonder then that he touched down in the Middle East with Gareth Southgate’s squad armed with a deserved reputation for being one of England’s most exciting and creative attacking talents.

But – along with Three Lions team-mate Conor Gallagher – something else also marks Foden out from the rest of their England counterparts.

For the pair are in the unique position of understanding first hand just what it takes-  and means - to help pilot their country to World Cup glory.

Foden and Gallagher were key components of the England Under-17s squad which memorably lifted the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India back in 2017 under the guidance of now Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper.

Just a month out from going on to make his senior City debut, Foden it was who emerged as the shining star from that memorable tournament.

And he capped what proved a remarkable few weeks on the sub-continent by scoring twice in the final as England overran a talented Spain team containing Sergio Gomez 5-2 in the final.

Such was his impact, Foden also lifted the Golden Ball having been named the best player of the tournament and was also voted as the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year the following month.

That breakthrough tournament proved the springboard which helped launch a career that has already seen numerous special highlights for both club and country.

Now though comes the ultimate experience for a player.

The chance to figure and shine at a senior World Cup finals.

Foden has been joined at Qatar by four of his City colleagues in the talented shape of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish.

And for his part, Phil says the journey that has shaped his progress to this stage – all the way from tasting World Cup Under-17 glory to sustained success with City – has armed him with the best possible preparation for what lies ahead 

“All the experience I’ve had from winning the Youth World Cup to the Premier League can only help me on the big stage,” Foden said as he looked ahead to the Qatar showpiece.

"Winning the (Under 17) World Cup was a great experience

“It’s just building on the experience of previous tournaments and growing as a player.

“I’m just doing that step by step.”

To date for England, Foden has amassed 18 caps and scoring two goals but there is a feeling he has only scratched the surface in terms of his vast potential on the international stage

However, England manager Gareth Southgate for one, is in no doubt as to Foden’s fabulous talent, technique and tactical flexibility alongside his selfless commitment to help the team prosper in a variety of positions.

Southgate has followed Foden’s career arc carefully and having observed his stellar progress across various England age groups, afforded him his full international debut back in September 2020.

And he is also full of admiration for the way Phil’s progress at Club level has been superbly nurtured and overseen by City manager Pep Guardiola.

“We’ve known since 15, 16 what might be possible, and we are seeing that,” Southgate declared when commenting on Foden’s game-changing qualities last year.

“His evolution at his club has been perfect, really.

For lots of us we were probably waiting for him to get established in that City team, you have to say that Pep [Guardiola] has managed that really well. He is flourishing.
Gareth Southgate

“The fascinating part is what that role might be, and it could be any one of a number, frankly, because he’s got the ability to play in many different positions.

“Frankly he is one of those players who is effective anywhere across the front line if you play him at number 7, 11, 10, 8.

"But it’s fabulously exciting, isn’t it, when you’re trying to break down a defence and you have a player who sees the passes that he sees.

“We know what is possible. It was a big blow for us when he was out of the [Euro 2020] final in the end.”

That last reference offered a signpost to what proved biggest frustration in Foden’s fledgling England career to date.

Foden’s explosive expression of sheer, unbridled joy as he raced alongside Harry Kane after the skipper’s match-winning penalty in England’s 2-1 semi-final win over Denmark proved one of the defining images of Euro 2020.

Two days later, football demonstrated its fickle and cruel nature.

A seemingly innocuous incident at the end of the Three Lions’ last training session conspired to deny him a place in the final against Italy in what was England’s biggest match in 55 years.

Deliberating on what impact Foden would have made against Roberto Mancini’s eventual champions – either as a starter or from the bench – is all conjecture of course.

But what isn’t in doubt is that Foden’s presence would have offered England a potent creative option.

Reflecting on the moment he was ruled out earlier this year, Foden admitted the pain – both physical and emotional – was tough to bear.

“I remember speaking to the manager [Gareth Southgate] when I got injured and I just burst out crying in tears, the devastation that I got injured,” Foden admitted.

“[I was] just walking in from training and someone’s passed me a ball and I’ve decided to do a stupid touch and gone over on my foot,” he told Esquire.

“I felt a crack in the top of my foot and I couldn’t walk. I knew straight away.

The full world was watching, talking about the final, and here’s me got injured just before probably the biggest game of my life.
Phil Foden

“I was just praying on that day that the team won, and unfortunately we didn’t.”

One of the many wonderful aspects of football however is that it always affords both individuals and teams the chance of a brighter tomorrow.

And having seen England’s Lionesses unite the nation and end 56 years of hurt at the Women’s Euros earlier this year, now Foden and company have their chance to carve their names into English folklore.

“I think what they did by winning the Euros has definitely changed women’s football forever. I think they’ve inspired everyone.
Phil Foden

“Going into the World Cup now, I’m excited and want to take my club form into the international level.

“I know my performances can be much better so I'm just trying to do that.”