Callum Wilson has given some fascinating responses in a recent interview with Alan Shearer, discussing his ambitious aims for 2021/22, Allan Saint-Maximin’s plans to make the France squad and the classy moment Joelinton agreed to give him the no.9 shirt.
Last season’s top scorer has revealed that he’s not only eyeing 20 goals ahead of the new Premier League campaign, but also aiming to force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s England plans in time for the 2022 World Cup.
On that subject, Shearer revealed a telling line from Wilson when discussing Allan Saint-Maximin’s plans, claiming the Frenchman has “come back with a mindset that’s really focused, like he’s got a drive. He said to me, ‘I want to go to the World Cup with France’.”
As for Joelinton, our new number nine has revealed the moment the big Brazilian agreed to hand him the famous shirt, insisting he was a “gentleman” about it and an all round “top lad”.
Here’s a few snippets from his brilliant interview for The Athletic:
Shearer on Wilson, ASM and the Frenchman’s aims for 2022
‘He [Callum Wilson] and Saint-Maximin are our difference-makers and he says the Frenchman has “come back with a mindset that’s really focused, like he’s got a drive. He said to me, ‘I want to go to the World Cup with France’.”
I can be hard on Saint-Maximin when I’m analysing matches, but I was the same as a player. We know he can dribble and go past people and his feet are unbelievably quick, but as an old centre-forward he frustrates the hell out of me. More often than not, I’m thinking, “******* ****, just get the cross in!” He can do it, so why not do it more often? I’d be screaming at him (some of my arguments with David Ginola …) I wonder aloud if Callum is the same.“
Wilson on ASM:
“In training, I say to him, ‘Listen, you would be so much better if you do your skills and then do the simple thing and sometimes you don’t even need to do skills because you’re so quick and powerful. Just go and pass it simple’,”
“He’ll take on a player, take him on again and take him on again and I’ll be, ‘Look, you can do that, but can you do the other side? Because that’s what’s going to take you from Newcastle to the France World Cup squad’.
“I’ve told him, ‘I’ll be in the right positions to make sure you get your assists and you can do the same for me’. He drags so many people away, then he turns with the ball and then it’s ‘Right, can you find me now?’. Unfortunately, he has an illness, but the more we play together, the more we’ll do that. After the Burnley game last year, I said to him, ‘That was unbelievable, you can be a world-beater like that, so do it more often’.
“This year, if we both say fit, we can build on that. The manager wants to play him [ASM] as a No 10 which is perfect for me. I don’t want to drop in because I’m going the opposite way to goal. He wants to drop in because he’s a bit lazy and doesn’t want to run in behind! I’ve said, ‘I’ll do your running, I’ll backtrack on your midfielders, just turn and pass when you get an opportunity’. That’s all I want. Put him in the middle and he can make slick passes and get shots off.”
Wilson on his goal target and England plans:
“Personally, 12 [goals] is not a number I wanted to be associated with as a striker,”
“You want to be at 15 at least, or 20. It was frustrating to have injuries when I felt I was on the way to a 20-goal season. With the chances I had, I felt I was as clinical as I could be, although there’s always bits of your finishing you can brush up on.
“Some chances come straight to my mind. Brighton, second league game of the season, I had a header and should have scored. I was still kicking myself months later when I was injured, thinking, ‘That would have been an extra goal’.
“I’m working hard now in pre-season, I’m getting a good bit of running and physicality behind me, getting robust, and I just want to get to 20 goals this season. I’m not shying away from that.”
“I’ve played in League One, I’ve played in the Championship, I’ve played in the Premier League and this is the only league where I haven’t hit 20 goals yet. That’s grinding away at me inside.
“It’s something that deep down, I want to achieve. It’s no secret, I want to hit 20 goals this season, I’m going to do everything in my power to do that, as well as helping the team and providing assists for others.
“Ultimately, I’m judged on scoring goals and that’s all I’m thinking about and what I want to do. And I’ve got one eye on the long-term goal of trying to make the World Cup next year. That’s something giving me a little bit of motivation and internal desire as well.”
“Playing for my country is something I always wanted to do as a kid, so when I got the opportunity I was so grateful.
“I tried to grasp my debut with both hands. Then we were relegated at Bournemouth, I came here and found myself out of the squad.
“It was definitely motivating me in league matches, thinking ‘OK, get yourself back in the squad’, but it didn’t come. I had injuries at the wrong time. I went to the semi-final and final of the European Championship and supported the boys but, as a striker, you know what’s like, you’re looking at people in your position and thinking, ‘That could be me’. I’m not shying away from that, either.
“You’ve got Harry Kane who is the England captain and is always going to play, but behind him I think it’s an open competition. I feel like I should be up there, fighting for that place. I never felt sorry for myself and I’ve worked hard in the off-season to make sure I can go again and try and get to the World Cup. That’s a big target for me.
“There’s an international break in September, so I’m eyeing goals straight away, thinking that’s a good opportunity to get back in. The lads have just come off the back of the Euros and probably won’t be up to speed, so the manager might change things around. I’ve got to make sure my name is at the top of the list. Goals are the only thing that’s going to get me there, so it’s the thing I’m focusing on.”
He has not spoken to Gareth Southgate since March last year, when the manager told Callum, “there would be a lot of friendlies and more game time and stuff like that. Since I’ve joined Newcastle, there’s not been any contact, but I guess he’s had other things to worry about! I’m sure I’ll be putting my name back into his speed dial soon!”
Wilson on the no.9 shirt and THAT chat with Joelinton:
“It’s such an iconic shirt for Newcastle,”
“You wore it in the past and did great things in it and it was a selling point coming to the club, having the opportunity to play in front of such a great fanbase. Being a striker, you want to wear the No 9.
“I walked in the door and didn’t want to ruffle any feathers straight away, so you have to bide your time, get your feet under the table and make friends around the dressing room rather than enemies. I didn’t really bring the discussion to Joey. I thought the mature thing to do was to settle for 13 in my first season and then me and Joe had the conversation recently when the No 7 became available. That’s an iconic shirt as well.
“We were on pre-season in York. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it just so happened we were walking down the corridor, we were both on our own and I pulled him and said ‘I play predominantly down the middle and you play out wide a bit more, would you like to take 7 because I’d prefer 9?’. And he just said, ‘Yeah, thank you for asking’. He was a gentleman about it. He’s such a nice guy, a top lad.”
“It’s a great shirt to have on your back and you’re also playing for the badge on the front, but ultimately you’ve got a job to do as a man and I don’t let pressure absorb my brain or weigh me down,”
“I’ll try to excel. I’m just looking forward to wearing it in the stadium with all the fans there. It’s going to be such a proud moment for me and my family. I want to do justice to the people who have worn it before me like yourself.”