England new-boy Eberechi Eze considered taking a job at Tesco before hitting stardom with Crystal Palace | The Sun

EBERECHI Eze has been called up by Gareth Southgate for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.

The Crystal Palace midfielder, 24, has enjoyed a standout campaign for the Eagles – scoring ten times in the Premier League – just two years after making a move across London from QPR.

But at one time it didn't look like the fans' favourite was going to make it in the game, nevermind getting Three Lions acknowledgement.

Released by Arsenal and Millwall, the exciting talent could have been forgiven that a life in professional football wasn't for him.

And at his lowest, he considered taking a job working part-time at supermarket chain Tesco.

While it all began for Eze on a council estate in a rough part of Greenwich, where he developed his close control and quick feet playing cage football.

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At QPR and Crystal Palace, Eze has had the opportunity to flourish, playing for teams that let him showcase his skills.

But it wasn't always that easy, and rejection was a big part of his early teens.

He began at boyhood club Arsenal – who he has expressed his dream to play for one day.

However, in 2011 the Gunners released Eze on the count of him being "too small". It left the then 13-year-old distraught.

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"It started at Arsenal. I was 13 [when I was released]. That was the worst one," he told the Independent.

"I remember crying in my room for a solid week, my mum telling me that it’s going to be OK but not being able to get over it."


A stint at Fulham, followed by four months at Reading and Eze still couldn't find any takers.

In 2014, he joined Millwall, but wasn't suited to their brand of route one football that left little room for a creative playmaker.

Surprisingly, to Eze at least, he was called into the office of former manager Neil Harris, who told the youngster he wasn't needed two years later.

“When I got released by Millwall, I understood the decision. I get why Neil made that call," he told talkSPORT.

“You could see in training and in matches that I wasn’t their typical type of player.

“I didn’t think I would get released at the time I did though – that came as a big shock to me.

“I thought I’d probably get another year there, even though it didn’t look like there was much chance of me getting near the first team.

“It took me by surprise, but ultimately it was a blessing in disguise.”


With a career in football looking unlikely, Eze had to think about a making a life in something else.

He enrolled at a college, and was on the verge of accepting a job part-time at a local Tesco.

“When I initially got released [by Millwall] I wasn’t too down, as there were plenty of clubs interested in me," he said.

“But after being turned down by a few of them that’s when it really started hitting me. I was getting a bit worried – all I’ve ever wanted to do is to be a professional footballer."

He told the Independent: “I honestly have no idea what I would have done.

"I didn’t like anything at school. Even P.E was a drag. When my agent told me I had a trial at QPR I just thought: ‘I have to get in’. There was no other option.”

His saving grace was QPR's technical director Chris Ramsey, who not only invited him for a trial but saw his potential.

Eze signed a contract with the West London side in 2016, and became one of the most talked about players outside the Premier League.


Eze's unique set of ball skills, able to dribble himself out of tight spots, was developed playing a brand of cage football – like 'ballers' Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson.

He grew up in the flats opposite Greenwich Hospital, where football was his escape.

“There are the nice parts [of Greenwich] and the not so nice parts," he revealed.

"I grew up in a not so nice part. It wasn’t the easiest life and you don’t have as much as other kids around you.

"The first place we’d go after school is to the cage. We’d stay there till our parents called us in, not eating, playing all day and night.

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"There wasn’t really anything else to do. But that’s where the love comes from. [At the time], you don’t realise it’s actually how you’re learning your trade.”

A trade that could see Eze representing his country in the near future.

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