Former Preston North End loan goalkeeper Sam Johnstone overjoyed by England call-up

Sam Johnstone’s decision to leave Manchester United and create his own career path has paid dividends, with the former Preston North End goalkeeper looking to make sure this is the first of many England call-ups.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:02 pm

The 27-year-old has been a shining light in a season to forget for West Bromwich Albion, who are bound for the drop, given they are 10 points adrift with just nine matches to play.

Johnstone’s performances for Sam Allardyce’s struggling side have led to a first senior England call-up, joining Dean Henderson and Nick Pope in a squad missing Jordan Pickford through injury.

Born in Preston and raised in Leyland, Johnstone had two loan spells with PNE - the club his dad Glenn made 10 appearances for in 1993.

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Sam Johnstone in the warm-up before Preston North End's play-off final victory over Swindon at Wembley in May 2015

He first joined them from United in January 2015 and was in the side which won promotion via the League One play-offs.

Johnstone returned to Deepdale in January 2016 for a short loan stint.

“I was out training and came into a very good text on my phone to say I’ve been selected to be in the English squad and I was buzzing,” said Johnstone.

“It’s such a proud moment for me and my family to get that text and then to finally meet up with the team.

Sam Johnstone (left) with Alan Kelly, Jamie Jones, Thorsten Stuckmann and Steven James after PNE's play-off final victory at Wembley in May 2015

“Look, that’s the dream, isn’t it? To be called into the England set-up, into the senior team.

“I’ve worked hard, I’ve done the youth teams at England. I’ve done the loans.

“I knew I had to probably move away from Man United and create my own path, which I’ve done and then finally got in the Premier League which then allows me to do my thing and be selected for the group and for England.

“I’m obviously delighted to be here and really proud.”

Johnstone had to keep silent as family and friends peppered him with questions about his widely predicted call-up, which was another reward for taking the road less travelled.

Oldham, Scunthorpe, Walsall, Yeovil, Doncaster and PNE were temporary pitstops during his time at United, before impressive loan stints at Aston Villa and a permanent switch to Albion in 2018.

Johnstone saw his progress blocked by David de Gea, among others, at Old Trafford, with the Spain goalkeeper among those to congratulate him on being selected for this month’s World Cup qualification triple-header.

“He texted me obviously when I got the call-up, saying he was happy and really proud and stuff as well,” Johnstone told beIN Sports.

“It’s really nice to hear from someone that I trained alongside for a number of years and learned a lot from.

“He said, ‘Really happy for you, you deserve it – good luck, go and give it your all’.”

Johnstone will look to put himself in the frame for a place in the England squad for the rearranged Euros.

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