Ryman League graduate Michail Antonio is celebrating a call-up to Sam Allardyce’s first England squad.
The 26-year-old former Tooting & Mitcham United winger was the only uncapped player included when the new England manager named his first squad on Sunday night for the World Cup qualifier in Slovakia on 4 September, his call-up coming seven years after he last played for the Terrors in the Ryman League while on loan.
Allardyce told the FA’s website: “I think he’s in outstanding form. This is another lad with a great journey – it’s a fantastic journey that he’s been on, from Non-League to now an international call-up.”
He added: “He scored nine goals in his first season and he’s a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goalscorer.”
Antonio, who was named only hours after scoring for West Ham United in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, is still a regular visitor to the home of the Terrors at Imperial Fields. Last March his return to the Ryman South club’s KNK Stadium to coach and help inspire the next crop of stars coming out of the south London club saw his efforts feature in The Non-League Paper and on the BBC’s Football Focus.
Born and bred in Wandsworth, Antonio signed for the Terrors as a 17-year-old after a successful trial with the club’s youth team before scoring on his first team debut in a 3-0 win at Wealdstone in September 2008 and again in each of his next three games.
Antonio was snapped up by Championship outfit Reading for an undisclosed fee less than a year later before going on to play for Cheltenham Town, Southampton, Colchester United and Sheffield Wednesday on loan. In 2012, he signed for Wednesday on a permanent deal before joining Nottingham Forest in 2014. He sealed his big move to the Premier League with West Ham in September 2015 on a four year deal.