Despite catching the eye more than a wicketkeeper who has a machine spurting cricket-ball sized eyes at him for two hours non-stop, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t getting carried away.
He’s impressed greatly since he was thrust into the team against Manchester United just a couple of weeks ago and already there’s talk of him being called up to the England squad for the European Championships this summer.
But The Ox, while obviously a precocious, ferocious and explodocious talent, is also an intelligent, well mannered and, most importantly, self-aware young man. He knows it’s early days in his career and he’s more than willing to put in the study required to ensure it’s as good as it can be.
“I’m one of the least experienced players in the squad so any player who gives me a comment always helps me, whether it is positive or constructive criticism,” he told the club’s official website.
“I listen to everybody. People like Thierry and Robin who score goals and are attacking players like myself, you can always learn a lot from them. That’s all I do, I listen and learn.
“I have belief in myself and in my own ability. I just know that I have to keep working hard and learn off the boys, and then hopefully the rest will come. At the moment it’s going quite well for me so I’m just going to keep working hard.”
Arsene Wenger and Robin van Persie have urged caution, to try and protect him from the media’s hype machine. When a young player comes along and plays well there’s a tendency for the praise to go rather too far, but when that young player is English he is expected to be both awesome at football and lift the spirits of a nation – until such time as the tabloids decide it’s time to take him down a peg or two for being too uppity have been made uppity by them in the first place.
And of his Euro 2102 chances, Oxlade-Chamberlain said, “Obviously it would be very nice but I just have to keep my feet on the ground and take it step by step.”
And once he continues to do that, he’ll make good progress.
In Ox we trust.