Ben Gibson sat down with UEFA.com to discuss life in the England Under-21 camp, revealing the secret of Harry Kane's success – and the importance of a game of mini-golf.
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It is not your usual hangover cure but when England heads were down after their opening loss to Portugal, it turns out they found the perfect pick-me-up on the mini-golf course.
This is the view of centre-half Ben Gibson, who, speaking to UEFA.com, opened a window on life in the England Under-21 camp in Olomouc – and highlighted the importance of a mini-golf tournament in lifting squad morale. "Funnily enough I think that it was quite important to us winning the other night," Gibson said.
"After the game against Portugal, the camp was a bit down and we actually arranged a mini-golf tournament for the lads. It got everyone in good spirits again – it was lively, it was a good laugh and everyone came back in. It didn't feel like we had lost and the next day we put it behind us and were ready to play Sweden."
Read on as Middlesbrough defender Gibson reveals everything from the secret of Harry Kane's success to the identity of the squad joker...
UEFA.com: Who's the best trainer in the camp?
Gibson: The standard of training is really high but I would have to say Harry Kane. I have no doubt what he has done this season is because of what he does on the training pitch. Every single day he is at his best – he puts 110% in, whether it is the warm-up, a shooting drill or even a tactical shape where he is defending. His attitude is phenomenal and he deserves everything he gets because he is not somebody who just turns up and does it on a match day. He really does apply himself in training and is a top pro.
UEFA.com: And the worst trainer?
Gibson: We haven't really got any bad trainers but the day before a game it's Carl Jenkinson. Even though he is my room-mate, you get nothing out of him. He just wants to save his legs. He doesn't really want to move. I am on his case and he says: 'Just leave me be, I will be right tomorrow'.
UEFA.com: What's he like as a room-mate?
Gibson: The amount he sleeps is incredible. If you get ten or 15 minutes at any point where you are back in your room, he wants the lights off, he wants to go to sleep – nobody in the room and telly off.
UEFA.com: What music gets played in the dressing room?
Gibson: It is deep house music and lively upbeat tunes. Jack Butland, the captain, takes control of it. He can get a bit of criticism at times so we finally settled on a playlist after about two years that suits everyone. It has got to get the lads going and he is certainly quite good at that.
UEFA.com: Who's the squad joker?
Gibson: Undoubtedly John Stones – he is one of the funniest people I have ever come across in the game. You can't turn your back with him. He is constantly messing about with equipment, trying to break into people's rooms, pulling faces behind your back. He is hilarious. And being from Barnsley makes him even funnier because of his deep Yorkshire accent. The banter is always flowing when he is around.
UEFA.com: After training, how are you switching off?
Gibson: We have great facilities. There is a table tennis table and while I say we get away from football there is an Xbox where people are playing FIFA. I've actually got some stumps and a soft ball and we've been playing a short game of cricket too. Just messing about.
UEFA.com: Finally, as a young defender, who is the toughest opponent you've come up against in your career?
Gibson: I would have to say David Silva. Middlesbrough played Manchester City in the FA Cup and as a centre-half he kept getting in these awkward holes right in front of me. I didn't know whether to go tight to him or whether to drop off. At the same time you've got Sergio Agüero pulling on your back shoulder. It was difficult and a couple of things he did took my breath away.
UEFA.com: And the player you would most like to play with?
Gibson: John Terry is someone I would try to model my game on. I am not going to get the opportunity to play with him but you would learn a lot and it would be amazing to stand next to someone like that and know you were fighting the same battle.