2017 has been a big year for Joe Gomez. After recovering from his second major injury in two years, he slowly worked his way back into the first team picture at the start of the year, featuring in the domestic cups. An impressive pre-season followed, and as Nathaniel Clyne was ruled out long-term with a back injury, space opened up in the Liverpool backline, a space that has since been solidly occupied by the 20-year old, who has featured in nine of Liverpool’s eleven Premier League fixtures so far.
And then, on November 14th, Gomez made his full international debut for England. Facing off against the formidable firepower of Brazil’s frontline, the Britons dug in for a 0-0 draw, and the former Charlton man’s performance has been widely hailed as impressive and the kind of debut that could launch him into contention for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Many people from outside the defender’s circle may not have anticipated that Gomez would be ready for the lofty levels on international football, but for those who have followed him more closely, his performance was anything but surprising. Ragnar Klavan belongs in the latter group.
“No [his performances didn’t surprise me]. He’s a good guy, he’s a really good player,” said the Estonian defender following the international break. “I’m really pleased. He’s a really nice guy and really, congratulations to him.”
“It’s well deserved and I could see already when I came last year that he’s eager to learn and he’s training hard, doing the extra work and this is the key to make those steps forward and I’m really happy for him.”
Suffering two severe injuries so early in ones career would be enough to derail the prospects of many a gifted youngster, but Klavan insists Gomez possesses the mentality to overcome those hurdles and kick on.
“Especially with those injuries that he had,” the 32-year old offere. “He was a long time out and I think this also made him mentally more stronger and this is a good thing, to have a good mentality and be strong, to keep on fighting and keep on training and you see those rewards are coming.”
With an international debut now under his belt, the rewards are most definitely evident to Gomez, and while it remains to be seen if the injury nightmare has left him mentally stronger, the 20-year old certainly looks as capable physically as ever, having lost none of the athletic grace that made him stand out back in 2015.
It’s back to the grind now, however, and with Southampton coming to town on Saturday, it’s up to Gomez to push his World Cup dreams to the back of his mind and refocus on the everyday endeavour of the Premier League.