It was 2013 when Nike took over the reigns as clothiers to the England National Football team and since then there has been a new dynamic – not just with the kit. At the time England, were considered an ‘ageing’ team, with all the focus on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Fast forward 3 years and English football is an altogether different position; the National team is blessed with an embarrassment of riches in youth talent, with suddenly Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane seemingly the more senior of the upcoming talent, despite being only 21 and 22 years old, respectively. With Euro 2016 on the horizon, and hope – not expectation – bristling around this National team, it’s a good time to be in the England set-up. Rather than the haranguing that the Three Lions are often subject to from the public, the general feeling is that this team will be given time and support to develop.We photographed the first Nike x England Football editorial at Wembley, so it was it was with a sense of nostalgia that I returned, this time to speak to (yet) another rising star, Reece Oxford.
At just 16 years old he made his debut for a good West Ham side, in one of the toughest leagues in world football - and has done so with aplomb. Now at 17 years of age, a few more appearances under his belt, I spoke to the young England Defender about the new Nike Vapor England Kit and his aspirations for his career going forward.
How did you feel the first time you were called up to play for the national team? Tell me a bit about the experience.
It was a real honour. We went to training camp back when I was Under 15, and there were about forty of us. From that forty, twenty-six were selected to play in the Victory shield tournament. It was shown on TV on Sky Sports actually, which was great.
And how did you do?
I played one game against Wales and we won that game – I think that was actually the only game we won.
You’ve had a great season, breaking through into a very competitive West Ham side. How does putting on a shirt for your country, differ from playing for your club? Is there a difference?
In terms of my game, there isn’t really a big difference for me, I like to treat my club and country the same. But with the National team, the whole country is watching you, it’s not just “I support this team”. People might support Millwall, people might support Charlton and so on, but they’ll all support you if you’re playing for England. So it’s a big honour if you get to play for your country.
You can play in a back line and have also appeared in defensive midfield. What position do you see yourself playing in the future?
For now, I get played in Midfield, just to get more experience on the ball, so that when I do step into the back line, it will be more comfortable for me. I see myself being a Centre back in the long-term.
Throughout your development and early career, you have played in a variety of kits. For you, what makes a good football kit?
I like a football kits to be comfortable and tight. I’m not really a big guy so…
Give it time don’t worry! [Laughter]
The last England kit did fit me well - the one from last season – I wore a size medium. It fit me well, it felt good and we played good football in it. A good kit helps you feel more comfortable and allows you to play your game to the best level.
The new Nike England kits are have 50% more stretch than the kits they replace. Given your position, do you feel this is something that will help your performance?
Going in for tackles, especially sliding, that would be great; if the shorts are able to stretch further, that would definitely help.
The new Nike England kit is reportedly based on theme emerging around a superhero aesthetic. If you were a super hero which one would you be and why?
Superman. Who wouldn’t want to be Superman!? He can do everything and he can’t die so…. He’s also a Commander and that’s what I base my game on, Commanding.
Finally, what England player do you look up to (past or present) that has helped motivate you in your career? What is it about their game that inspires you?
I think Rio Ferdinand is the one really. He played in my position; when I came into West Ham I was a Striker, and he was a Striker too. We both came up from similar backgrounds, and I just want to follow in his footsteps, develop the way he’s developed, and progress to be one of the best Centre backs England has ever had. I just want to follow in his footsteps.
EDITOR | SAMSON