Ivan Toney trolled Leeds, annoyed Arsenal… now he’s set to be England’s World Cup wildcard thanks to a remarkable rise from League One to the Premier League

    Ivan Toney looks set to receive his first ever call-up to the England squad when it is announced on Thursday. 

    The Brentford striker has scored five goals in six Premier League games this season and it’s form that is likely to be rewarded by Gareth Southgate with a World Cup on the horizon.

    Toney’s red hot form for Brentford has forced his way into England’s Nations League squad

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    Toney’s red hot form for Brentford has forced his way into England’s Nations League squad

    Toney has made a splash since arriving in the Premier League in 2021, showing his personality on and off the pitch by scoring goals, hitting back at Leeds and getting under Arsenal’s skin. 

    After a fairly up and down early career, he is now proving himself in the big time and the 26-year-old could become England’s World Cup wildcard. 

    Toney’s rise

    The player’s story is a great example of hard work. An initial flirt with the big time in 2015 at Newcastle was not a success, but that did not deter him as evidenced by his form. 

    Before that, though, he made a name for himself when, in 2012, he became Northampton Town’s youngest player to ever represent them, making his first-team debut at the age of 16 in an FA Cup tie against Bradford City. 

    Throughout the next three years, Toney played more than 50 times for his local club before Newcastle snapped him up. However, he made just two appearances for the Premier League side.

    League One strugglers Barnsley sign Newcastle youngster Ivan Toney on loan

    Toney got a move from Northampton to Newcastle in 2015, but only made two appearances for the club before leaving permanently in 2018

    Toney was sent out on six loans in total, proving himself in the Football League. His impressive goal-scoring record led to Peterborough United signing him permanently in 2018. 

    EFL star

    He worked his way into the starting line-up and, after scoring his first goal for the club against Southend United, he never looked back. 

    The striker scored 16 goals and provided eight assists in his debut season before scoring 24 more in 32 games the season after. 

    Toney came alive at Peterborough and in 76 league games, scored 40 goals

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    Toney came alive at Peterborough and in 76 league games, scored 40 goals

    He ended his time at London Road with the League One Player of the Season award in 2020 before joining Championship side Brentford. 

    Peterborough received their record transfer fee of £5million with a further £10 million in add-ons.

    This move gave Toney the opportunity to prove himself at a higher level and he made sure he took it.

    In his first season in west London, he scored 31 goals, setting a record for the most goals scored in a single Championship season before it was broken by Aleksandar Mitrovic who scored 43 last campaign.

    He fired Brentford to promotion and got a second crack at the Premier League, scoring 12 goals in the 2021/22 season to round off what has been an incredible rise. 

    Toney has adapted to life quickly in the Premier League

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    Toney has adapted to life quickly in the Premier League

    Brentford marked their first ever Premier League game by beating Arsenal 2-0 and Toney made sure everyone knew about it!

    AFP

    Brentford marked their first ever Premier League game by beating Arsenal 2-0 and Toney made sure everyone knew about it!

    Giving Arteta his team talk 

    Toney’s journey hasn’t been short on controversy and in recent months he has been getting into his opponent’s heads on and off the pitch. 

    In Brentford’s opening game of their first ever Premier League season in 2021, they superbly beat Arsenal 2-0. 

    After the game, Toney tweeted: “Nice kick about with the boys”. 

    This comment blew up on social media, with his words playing down the so-called tough test in playing one of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ sides.

    Not only did it anger many online but after the release of Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’ series, it was revealed that it also got under manager Mikel Arteta’s skin. 

    Arteta brought Toney’s tweet onto a screen in the dressing room to motivate his players

    Arteta brought Toney’s tweet onto a screen in the dressing room to motivate his players

    The Gunners boss used the tweet as motivation for his team ahead of the return fixture at the Emirates, showing the post on a screen in the dressing room. 

    He told his team: “You know what he did? You know this tweet? So today they play in our house guys & there is only one team on that f***ing pitch and it’s us.”

    Toney’s comment came back to bite him as Arteta’s pre-match team talk led to Brentford being beaten 2-1. 

    Trolling Leeds 

    Although the striker didn’t let this stop his approach on social media, as in May this year he took his trolling to Leeds. 

    Leeds won the Championship in the 19/20 season, whilst Brentford failed to gain promotion. 

    Toney quote retweeted a tweet of Leeds’ players singing about his manager

    Twitter: @IvanToney24

    Toney quote retweeted a tweet of Leeds’ players singing about his manager

    This led to a video being revealed of Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper singing a song aimed at Bees boss Thomas Frank during their celebrations. 

    So a year later, with Toney firing his side to the Premier League, newly-promoted Brentford found themselves above Leeds in the table. 

    Jesse Marsch’s side were struggling in the relegation zone and were one of the favourites to go down. 

    Toney then saw a perfect opportunity to hit back at the Leeds players on Twitter. He re-posted the video with the caption “Hmm”. 

    Once again the tweet received plenty of attention online and maintained his reputation as one of the most entertaining – and authentic – players on social media. 

    Ready for England? 

    With Toney’s form catching the eye of many this season, he is now on the brink of claiming a place in the England squad. 

    Among Toney’s goals so far this season was a hat-trick against Leeds, which he almost certainly enjoyed

    Getty

    Among Toney’s goals so far this season was a hat-trick against Leeds, which he almost certainly enjoyed

    His 12 goals and five assists last season, combined with his five goals and two assists in six games already this campaign has proved he is ready for the call-up. 

    After a hat-trick against Leeds last time out that showcased a variety of assets he possesses, it opened the eyes of many that he could provide something different to the nation’s forward line. 

    In 2021, Toney turned down the chance to play for Jamaica ahead of their World Cup qualification games as he was reported to be holding out hope of making Southgate’s team. 

    This dream may become a reality thanks to his hard-earned rise to the top of the football ladder.

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