Long-serving Brighton & Hove Albion coach Vic Bragg revealed the pleasure he felt for Lewis Dunk and his family when the central defender received his first call-up for England’s national team.
Bragg has overseen Dunk's progress through the club’s academy since day one, and it was a proud moment when he first heard news of the 26-year-old’s inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
He said, “I was really pleased for him and his family. It’s been a long road, he’s been with us since he was ten, we always thought he had the ability and it’s come to fruition now, which is really nice.
“He’s worked extremely hard at his game and that’s when you get the credit. I’m pleased for his family because I know his mum and dad well.
“We signed him when the club were at the Withdean Stadium and Steve Coppell was manager at the time. He said ‘I see we’ve signed another one, he looks a good one’.
“He’s always been technically very good for a big lad. It was just about him building on his skills because he was always going to have the strength and determination.”
Bragg also highlighted the football-orientated environment that Dunk grew up around, and believes the defender’s family can take some of the credit for his hard-working attributes.
“His dad was a good non-league player and he was always trying to teach him the right habits as well. He had that advantage of coming from a footballing family — his brother played as well.
“He obviously had natural ability, but little things needed brushing up on, which is exactly what he’s done.
“Lewis has a good attitude. It’s been tough at times but he’s always got over those periods and he’s done really well. He’s a good trainer that works hard — that came from his family as well.”
Dunk was called up to the Three Lions camp for their UEFA Nations League matches against Croatia [last Thursday] and Spain [tomorrow evening], and Bragg urged younger members of Albion’s academy to be inspired by the defender’s journey.
“When they see the likes of Dunky coming right through the academy into the England squad, it gives them a real boost. It makes it real for the academy players.
“It shows them that it’s possible. It’s not fictitious, it’s possible. It gives the whole academy a push in the right direction.
“You want the players to become a pro first, then you want them to get into the first team and then the next step is to play for the national team. It’s a great feeling to see them do it.”