Andros Townsend admits a desire to prove his doubters wrong and the backing of manager Rafael Benitez are fuelling a solid start to his Everton career.
Townsend, 30, signed a two-year Goodison Park deal in the summer after falling out of contract at Crystal Palace. The winger had been with the Eagles since July 2016 and made 185 appearances in all competitions. He has also played for England but the last of his 13 Three Lions caps came back in 2016.
An international comeback seems unlikely and there were those who doubted his hunger to remain in the domestic game. The Londoner can now be seen more and more working in the media.
It has emerged that Toffees officials were worried whether the wide man still had the stomach to play top-flight football. But he confessed that Benitez knew the passion to turn out on a Saturday still burned bright.
“Rightly or wrongly, the misconception when you’re a footballer, when you try to do something outside of football, is that you’re taking your eye off the game,” said Townsend, per The Mirror. “One of my first conversations with the manager was that, ‘The people at the club tell me you’re not focused any more, you’re not dedicated any more because of your media work’.
“But he said he watched me in my last game of the season for Crystal Palace against Liverpool. We were 2-0 down, and he saw me chasing around like it was a cup final.
“He said he knew then the fire was still there, so he has no problem in that sense.”
Townsend hits the ground running
Townsend was seen 34 times in the Premier League for Palace last term. And he has started two of Everton’s three league games in 2021-2022.
They have made an excellent start, with wins over Southampton and Brighton and a 2-2 draw at Leeds. The former Newcastle man admitted he was ready to go from the off and eager to prove the naysayers wrong.
“I didn’t need rejuvenating, I feel like an 18, 19-year-old breaking through with a lot of people questioning whether I’m good enough to play for this club,” he added. “It ignites that fire within you, the competitive nature, the desire to work hard and prove people wrong, so I’m loving every minute of playing for Everton.”
Benitez’s charges face a Burnley side on Sunday still looking for their first league win of the season.