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This was the fate of Ivan Toney

Tournament football is a different world than soccer.

There is very little preparation for national team matches. Therefore, there is very little cohesion between them. The winners are not always the easiest, but usually the most successful and efficient. You don’t have to be the best, you have to beat the best.

The nausea caused by this disorganized football leads to the entire tournament being labeled as the worst in a generation. Hold on people, this is just the reality we live in. Fighting with sticks and stones is how they always do it.

England’s self-deprecating style at Euro 2024 has not been everyone’s cup of tea, and there is growing discontent among fans to up the ante to match.

After edging past Slovakia in extra time and Switzerland on penalties, one diamond in the rough shone through to make the most of England’s precious youngster – Ivan Toney. Finally, the Three Lions have a player whose skills are well suited to the imperfect demands of international football.

Niclas Fullkrug’s and Wout Weghorst’s gave the target man new life. Fortunately for England, Toney is what they are and more – more than just a handful, more than another body, more than a regular target.

Toney is doing better than anyone in the England ranks, an extra edge to his game brought about by his razor-sharp thinking and superhuman strength. You don’t want to face him in the air. You don’t want his broad, well-known shoulders to bump into yours, you mortal.

All of that lends itself to this style of football, sure, but the way he combines those qualities makes him something of a superstar.

Ivan Toney

Never doubt / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Then there’s his trademark penalty, boasting an unblemished record since then, a flawless technique that involves staring at the goalkeeper and not even looking at the ball.

On Saturday, Yann Sommer became Toney’s latest victim. A crucial penalty at the European Championship stage put the 28-year-old in the place he was longing for, the time he wanted and deserved.

“I never look at the ball,” Toney told the world’s media after the game, as the public wanted to know more about his iron intensity. “If you consider it’s just my habit, I think that’s what I do but some people might see it as crazy. But it’s just my habit and I’ll stick to it. It’s worked and it can work whenever I need to.”

Twice now Gareth Southgate has turned to Toney to help revive England’s hopes of Euro 2024 glory, and twice he has delivered. Be the focal point, be the center of attention. Do you, and others will fall into place.

Unless England go on to win (HA), it’s hard to imagine that Toney won’t play some part in the upcoming semi-final and any potential final. He has too much influence on this forum to ignore.

These displays, no matter how limited they are and how small the sample size is, will certainly increase interest in Toney, who will be allowed to leave Brentford this summer if he receives the right offer.

Again, club football is not the same as international football, but it is hard to deny that there would not be a similar use of Toney in the week-to-week game, or at least in the knockout stages of European competitions. But as he proved in the last seven days, he is ready for all that.


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