Former Brighton & Hove Albion head of youth and manager Martin Hinshelwood admitted a feeling of pride came over him when Lewis Dunk stepped out at Wembley Stadium to make his England debut on Thursday night.
Hinshelwood saw Dunk’s rise throughout the club’s academy, as the defender progressed to become a first-team regular, and he watched with interest as Dunk played his first match for Gareth Southgate’s side.
“He did very well and it was a good game for him to play. He made a couple of sloppy passes but that’s football. Overall, he was steady and didn’t look out of place.
“He didn’t look nervous. He did have some silly white boots on, but I suppose that’s part and parcel of the game now!
“I thought he coped very well with the game and his family can be very proud of his performance.”
Dunk played the full 90 minutes on his Three Lions debut, with England sealing a comfortable 3-0 victory over the USA, and Hinshelwood revealed the contact he had with the 26-year-old after the match.
“I text him afterwards to say ‘well done, I hope it’s the first of many’. That was at about half-past ten, and then an hour later my phone went and he’d replied to my text to say ‘thank you very much’.
“A lot of people would have sent him a text, so if he hadn’t have come back to me then it wouldn’t have been a major problem — but it was great that he took the time to text me back.”
Hinshelwood reflected on his first memories of Dunk and believes the defender has shown leadership skills for many years, but has since developed his game with maturity.
“He was a leader since day one. His manner was excellent on the pitch — he doesn’t shout and scream but you can see him talking to other players, and also listening to them.
“That’s important — there are three l’s in football, you live, listen and learn. Lewis has done that throughout his career.
“He was always a tall lad, but he had good knowledge of the game and was comfortable on the ball. He was in a good group at that time and they all wanted to play attractive football.
“He’s even more comfortable on the ball now and has expanded his game and learned more about it.
“He was down for a couple of holidays a year on bookings at one point! But he’s learned about the game since then. Even last night he went to ground once and probably thought ‘I shouldn’t have done that’.
“That experience of playing in the Premier League has helped him mature, also having the players he does have around him at the football club right now. The manager [Chris Hughton] is also first class for him.”