Angus Gunn’s career as a goalkeeper was nearly finished before it began.
Like most kids, he started out dreaming of being a striker but was put between the sticks as a nine-year-old. Yet, if his mum had had her way, she would have stopped the Southampton goalie following in dad Bryan’s footsteps.
Gunn Jnr said: “I was on trial playing outfield at Norwich City for the Under-9s, the keeper got injured. Someone gave me the gloves and after that session, someone else told me to bring the gloves next time and focus on being a goalkeeper.
“After the session when they told me to be a keeper, my dad got home, told my mum and I don’t think she was very pleased. She was like, ‘I’ve dealt with you for 20 years – I don’t need another goalkeeper!’
“But it happened, she accepted it and I think she’s fine with it now.”
No wonder as Gunn is established as one of England’s blossoming generation of keepers along with Jordan Pickford, Tom Heaton, Nick Pope and Dean Henderson.
The 23-year-old played under Gareth Southgate for England’s U-21s and choosing which nation to represent was never in doubt despite his dad, ex-Norwich keeper Bryan, being a proud Scotsman and winning six caps for his country.
“I have always focused on England. My dad is fully Scottish, I’m half Scottish, there’s part of my heart where I look at Scotland, it’s a great country, the passion they show for their team is amazing,” said Gunn.
“But since I started with England U-15s, I have played at every age group up until the U-21s and my ultimate dream is to play for England. If it happens then it will be the pinnacle of my career. It’s a target for all of us younger guys and now we’re all playing in the Premier League, it’s something that can help us all push each other.
“It’s suddenly happened that we are all coming through.
“Dean got promoted at Sheffield United, Aaron Ramsdale has done well at Bournemouth to get the No.1 shirt and the other guys already in the England squad have performed well for a couple of seasons now.
“They are the targets for us younger guys to get towards. Everyone can improve and, personally, playing in the Premier League gives me a chance to get called up and live my dream.”
Gunn joined Manchester City in 2011, aged 15, and was seen as one of their brightest young talents with Pep Guardiola even promoting him to the bench in the Champions League as he was third choice behind Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero.
“Claudio got red carded in the Nou Camp and couldn’t play in the return fixture against Barcelona at home.
“Then I was thinking, ‘This could be interesting!’ We went 1-0 down. To see players like Messi and Suarez who were so quick, you feared the worst. The Premier League is the best but, after that, it’s Champions League.
“Every player wants to play in European competition, you watch it all of the time, hear the anthem before the games and hopefully it will happen for me in the future.”
Gunn decided to put that on hold to move to Southampton in 2018 for £13million. He wanted to pursue regular first-team football, but had to bide his time in a battle with Alex McCarthy to be No.1.
The Saints have gone through major changes as Ralph Hasenhuttl took over as coach last season. Gunn (right, with the Austrian) added: “We definitely want to aim for the top half of the Premier League.
“Having a younger squad is something the club and the manager have progressively changed. We’re a fresh, athletic team and that’s the way the manager wants us to play – fast, pressing high and with energy. The manager is very enthusiastic.
“It’s really good to see and I think it rubs off on the lads. It’s infectious.
“It’s big for the fans as well, they want to see a team with enthusiasm, desire and he definitely forces that on us, makes us show it and provide it on the pitch for the fans.”