Relaxed Ben White out to make his own World Cup memories

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Ben White admits he has few memories of watching England as he approaches his first World Cup in the same relaxed fashion which has seen him move up through the leagues.

The 25-year-old has impressed for Arsenal this season having played the majority of the campaign at right-back, his form earning him a place in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad in Qatar.

White joined the Gunners from Brighton in 2021 on the back of a fine season on the south coast after honing his craft with loan spells at Newport, Peterborough and Leeds.

He is a contender to start in England’s defence in their opening game against Iran on Monday, but, had he not been in the squad, he could easily have spent the next month not tuned into the World Cup.

Asked if he had watched previous tournaments, White replied: “I’ve watched a few.

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“In the summer I used to ride down to the beach in Bournemouth and watch it on a big screen, but normally I’m not watching football in the week. I don’t know what it is – I didn’t grow up watching it, in my house it wasn’t on.

“Everyone is (watching) it, aren’t they? But I was always so active, it is the same now. I always get asked what I do after football – I don’t really do much but I am always busy.

“So sitting down and watching a 90-minute game after I’ve trained all day and had four or five meetings about football? The last thing I want to do is watch more football.”

Unlike the majority of his England colleagues, White cannot instantly highlight his first World Cup memory when asked to do so.

“None that stick out,” he said. “Obviously the disappointments and I remember Eric (Dier’s) penalty against Colombia (in 2018) and the feeling when that went in. (The World Cup) just wasn’t on in my house.”

While football was not a rite of passage for White given his parents lack of interest in the sport, he revealed they have hardly missed a game he has played in and will be cheering on England from Qatar.

“They will be here,” he said. “Mum and dad have been to every game I have ever played. I read somewhere that my mum and dad don’t support me but they have been to every single game.

“My sister was giving birth when she had her first and mum was at hospital so it was the only game she ever missed.”

White put his form this season down to being “so happy” in his life, having enjoyed back-to-back pre-seasons with the same club for the first time since leaving Brighton on loan for League Two Newport in 2017.

“It is nice going back for pre-season knowing that you’re not going to go somewhere else. It’s been a really good season so far and we are only halfway through.

“It is one of the big reasons why I am where I am. Not having too low lows or high highs, staying level. Everything can change so quickly. I learnt from getting released (by Southampton at 16).

“I remember it was obviously a rubbish day, but I didn’t cry about it, it was just on to the next thing. It is like that after a game, if you didn’t play so well. It is all swings and roundabouts.

“Coming from League Two. You go to a club and they are like, ‘Who is this guy?’. Then I go and smash the season and get player of the season and then go to League One and the same happens.

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“Then I go to a club like Leeds, no-one has a clue who I am and play every single minute. I think it is something which has continued in my career. I believe in myself. I have worked hard to get here.

“I don’t think I have done it an easy way. I think it is just being consistent, believing in what I do.”

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