Dunk: Playing in Europe can help me at Euros

Albion skipper is enjoying his first experience of a major tournament.

By Bruce Talbot • 15 June 2024

By The FA
Lewis Dunk believes he can play a big part in a successful campaign in Germany for England.

Lewis Dunk covered a wide range of topics when he sat down to look ahead to England’s opening game in the Euros against Serbia on Sunday when the Albion skipper will be hoping to add to his six caps and make his tournament debut.

At 32, did you think your chance of playing in a major tournament had gone?

Realistically this was probably my last chance of getting to a tournament. Being out of the squad for a long time after my debut meant I thought it was over, but I got back in and now I am here enjoying the moment.

Where did you watch past tournaments?

All over the place! The last World Cup I was in my friend’s garden in Eastbourne, I watched one abroad when I was younger in Portugal. I’ve chucked my beer in the air before - many times! I probably wouldn’t have come out as a fan, but I would have watched every game. And if I hadn’t made the squad I would have gone on holiday wherever my wife tells me! We like Greece at the moment.

Is it worse making a mistake for England than at club level?

It is not nice making a mistake in club or international football. No one wants to do that. But that is part of football, and it is how you deal with a mistake and finish the rest of the game. Football is a game of opinions and the one who matters is the manager of England, and he has picked me to be here. I am thankful to him and hopefully I can help the team win the trophy.

By Paul Hazlewood
Lewis Dunk thinks that playing in Europe last season for Albion has helped his game.

Did you fear missing out when the squad trimmed?

I was always hopeful, but you are anxious and hope to be in the squad and thankfully I am here.

Everyone is here on merit but it’s a very inexperienced squad. Thoughts?

There’s still experience in the group. There are boys who have been in five tournaments, four tournaments, three tournaments. I’ve got experienced players if I want to ask questions and they’re more than happy to help me and give me advice on anything. I’m an experienced professional. I’ve played a lot of games and once you cross the white line you’re just going to do everything you can to win.

You are very vocal for Brighton. Can you be like that for England?

Of course, that’s one of my strengths on the football pitch. Off the pitch I’m probably not the loudest or the most outspoken, I’m more of a reserved guy. But on the pitch I’m outspoken and I’m there to win and me communicating helps everyone. I’m not here for a holiday. I’m here to play games and win matches, and hopefully we can take the trophy home. That’s what I’m here for.

How’s your fitness? You had an injury and missed games at the end of the season

It was just a slight knee problem which I played through for a couple of weeks, and it got too much. I missed the last couple of Brighton games when the pain got a bit too much and I needed a couple of weeks to rest so my body could recover. I’ve played through a lot worse. As long as I’m out there and it’s not hindering the team I will play. I speak to my physio and we say you put it in a box and lock it up for the game. I’m quite resilient, I can take a bit of pain and get on with it.

Is your family coming to the tournament?

Yes. My wife and kids are coming over. My mum and my dad will be at every game and brothers and sisters will be flying in and out for certain games. Of course, it’s a proud moment for them. My kids are getting older and starting to understand. My eldest is nine now and loves football. But I’m just his dad and I’m just doing what he does and playing football. It’s nice to put a smile on my kid’s face. Hopefully they have a good time.

By The FA
Lewis Dunk made his sixth appearance for England against Bosnia earlier this month.

You’ve gone from being a no-non sense defender to being a ball playing defender. Have you enjoyed that journey?

I would say I was always a ball-playing centre-half from a younger age, U18s coming through. And obviously the manager’s playing style determine how you play. I enjoy both parts of the game, obviously the defending part was massive for me and my journey. Graham Potter allowed me to show a bit more of my skills and passing ability and Roberto De Zerbi took me onto another level in terms of understanding the game. It’s been a nice mix of managers, and that has helped bring out different parts of my game.

Gareth Southgate is a bit different. You don’t have the time to work on set patterns like we do at Brighton, but Gareth has top players that allow us to play with a bit more freedom. Once you let these attacking players play with freedom they can be frightening. Gareth wants us to play out (from the back). It’s not as structured as at Brighton, but with this attacking talent it can be frightening.

What do you think you bring to this defensive unit?

I bring my style of play and my experience. Just because I have not played a tournament does not mean I’m not experienced. I have played more than 450 games and probably come up against every scenario in football. This tournament is of a different magnitude. Brighton’s Europa League experience this year helped me a lot, playing against European teams and coming up against different players.

How do you relax at the training camp?

A little bit of Uno. There’s a golf course that I try to get out on at the right time. They’ve got everything at this base. They put us in a good position to relax and then we have training when it’s time to switch on. We get the right balance of relaxation and recovery.

You’ve had some good battles with [Serbia striker] Aleksandar Mitrovic over the years?

I’ve had many battles with him. He’s a top striker and one you’ve got to be wary of when he’s in the box. He’s a big strong centre-forward who likes peeling to the back post and scoring goals. We’ve got to be switched onto that and make sure we mark him all the time. You are going to come up in this tournament against good players and we’ve got to make sure we’re on top of it.