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John Fashanu exclusive: England must take Brentford striker Toney to Euros; Why Millwall fans loved me as their 'destroyer'

"When you are playing for England, you realise most of the players that you're playing with are not your friends. They're coming from different clubs and they have no business shaking your hand," says John Fashanu when reminiscing about the time he won two caps for England and a reception that took him by surprise.

"When I was selected for England, I was thinking this is going to be wonderful. Oh, there's Glenn Hoddle and some of the other legends that I respected. Not one of them wanted to talk us new boys. Not one! The camaraderie of the team was not there.

"And you know, I was the hard man most of the players were trying to deal with just a few weeks ago in the league, they weren't going to shake my hand," the former Wimbledon striker concedes with words which may or may not shine a light on Ben White choosing not to be available for England. Worth a thought at least, but Fash would rather give a shout out to Gareth Southgate who in his opinion is doing a good job.

"I certainly wouldn't want his job. If you want to stay away from stress and stressful people, imagine being in his position, having to choose a squad of so many wonderful players," Fashanu tells One of those current players is Ivan Toney, of Brentford, with whom Fashanu hasn't been too impressed with off-field.

Toney yes, Watkins no

"Getting yourself into silly situations like that when the competition to get into the England squad is already enormous, I mean…," he says, while adding Toney has nevertheless earned his place in the squad unlike Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins.

"I think he needs to be more tactical in his play," Fashanu believes, while joining Paul Merson is his belief that England should win the Euro's in Germany this summer.

"I think they will. Let's be positive," he says with a trademark smile.

Speaking of his former club Wimbledon also brings a smile to his face as the association with the club where he spent eight years and played 276 games is still big.

"Whenever I go back there it's like my home and they lovingly treat me like it's my home which is very nice. It is different when I go to Aston Villa. Villa is a big city club and they're not going to come and shake your hand," tells Fashanu who finished his career with Villa.

Prior to joining Wimbledon, Fashanu spent two years with Millwall - talk about the optimal preparation for later joining a side that went on to be known as "The Crazy Gang"!

"As a club, Millwall was the tougher of the two as they were not yet used to having black players. But Millwall being a club of very rough and tough guys was good for me, because I was a bloody bully myself. If you're on top of your game and they like you, my goodness, they will die for you there, but if they don't, you're in trouble and you better run.

I was a "bloody bully"

"I was their type of player; I didn't have the skills of Glenn Hoddle. My job was to go out there and destroy everything on the pitch, which I was quite good at, so I had a good relationship with the Millwall fans," the former Gladiators presenter recalls.

Wimbledon was also a team renowned for their physical playing style, but there were still a few teams "The Crazy Gang" didn't fancy playing against.

"The two teams we feared were Arsenal and Liverpool. They were organised, they had the best players and we read about their crazy salaries in the newspapers. We get onto the pitch and see a big hole in the stands where our supporters were supposed to be but no one had come to watch us. Then you look over at Arsenal's end and you see fans 'in the millions'," Fashanu laughs, just like Wimbledon surprisingly often got the last laugh. Not least in the 1988 FA Cup final, beating Liverpool 1-0.

"Most of us couldn't even spell the word 'Wembley' and being in a stadium with 100.000 people was new to all of us. What did little Wimbledon have to stand up to Liverpool with? My goodness what a turn of event that was," Fashanu says, hoping England supporters will enjoy the same kind of celebrations this summer.

- John Fashanu was speaking to on behalf of

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Jacob Hansen


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