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First team

'I'm still the same joker from Coventry'

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

When Callum Wilson first arrived in Bournemouth, very few people outside of Coventry had ever heard of him.

Wilson was just 22 when Eddie Howe signed him in July 2014, the striker having hit 22 goals during his breakthrough campaign for the League One Sky Blues.

Fast forward five years and Wilson is now an England international, has been named in Gareth Southgate's final 23-man squad for this summer's Nations League tournament and has just enjoyed “my most productive season in the Premier League”.

But has it changed him?

“No, I’m still the same joker from Coventry!” he told afcb.co.uk. “Whether or not you have success in life, you always have to remain the same.

“I’m the same as all the other lads in the dressing room. Just because I have put on an England shirt and scored for my country, I’m no different.

“I have always stayed humble and think that’s the best way to be because it will take you far in life.

“You do get recognised a lot more but that’s just because we are a Premier League club now. Everyone watches England so I guess more people will recognise you.

“But when I’m with my family, people don’t tend to bother me. They know you need your privacy and space and they respect that.

“I would never refuse anybody a photo, I’m not that type of guy. When you retire, you will probably miss people recognising you so just enjoy it while it lasts.”

Wilson plundered 23 goals in his debut season at Vitality Stadium, leading the scoring charts as the Cherries lifted the Championship title in 2014/15.

Two serious knee injuries restricted him to a combined total of 33 appearances in the Cherries’ first two seasons in the Premier League, major setbacks which threatened his career.

But since hitting the comeback trail for the second time in October 2017, Wilson has featured in 58 of the Cherries’ 67 games in the top flight, his 22 goals proving key in the club extending its stay in the Premier League for a fifth successive season.

Wilson, 27, celebrated 2018/19 by winning the Golden Boot at Vitality Stadium, his 16 goals including 14 in the Premier League and a maiden strike for his country in a 3-0 win over USA at Wembley in November.  

“It’s been my most productive Premier League season in terms of games, goals, assists and staying fit.

“It was a bit stop-start at times and frustrating to have a couple of injuries and concussion. I was scoring and feeling good so it was annoying. But when I came back, I hit the ground running so that was good.

“I was happy to get 15 goals for the club but would like to have got more. I would back myself to get closer to 20 and missed a lot of big chances. But that’s something I can improve on.”

Wilson added: “For the team, it was probably a little frustrating to finish 14th. We had a great start, we had 20 points after 10 games and were thinking we could achieve something.

“But then players got injured. I know it’s part of the game but you don’t realise just how much it affects a squad when you have big players and big characters dropping out week after week.

“You have to regroup and I think that’s what we struggled to do straight away. It’s about trying to pick yourselves up as soon as possible and I don’t think we did that as well as we could have. We were stretched quite far in terms of squad depth.

“We were still close to achieving the highest points tally and, had we done that, it would have been a good season. When you look at our league position, you’re disappointed but it is something to improve on for next season.”

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