Scholing’s win at the FA Vase may seem like an unexpected inspiration for one of football’s top young talents, but watching his uncle win at Wembley helped fuel Levi Colville’s rise to fame.
The 20-year-old centre-back is on the verge of making his England debut this month as “an amazing year” continues for the homegrown Chelsea star.
Colville thrived on loan at Brighton and won the European Under-21 Championship in the summer before signing a new long-term contract and making his debut for the club he joined at the age of eight.
Chelsea are his team, but Southampton are his home, where the defender’s family ties to local non-league side Scholing have made a lasting impact.
— Sholing FC (@sholingfc) August 2, 2023
Watching the team was an integral part of his childhood and the pinnacle came in 2014 when he was the mascot when Uncles Barry and Byron Mason won the FA Vase against West Auckland Town.
Asked if that day at Wembley made him realize that this is what he wanted to do, Colville replied: “Definitely.
“I remember as soon as I woke up with them, feeling the nerves. I saw how serious they were and I remember the celebration after that.
“It was like a family affair with their team. Everyone was family and I just love that feeling.
“So, as a little boy, I remember walking out and looking up and thinking, ‘One day I should be here, I should be playing here – I can’t have my uncles playing here and not me. I hope one day it will happen to England as well.”
Colville left Chelsea training early that day to make it to Wembley, where he changed into a Scholing uniform and waited in a tunnel for his uncle to walk by and escort him out.
He called the 1-0 win “one of the best feelings ever” and the nine years of association with Scholing remain as strong as ever.
Uncle Barry may have retired, but Byron Mason is still strong and close to 700 games for Sholing, where Dan – the youngest of the Mason brothers – scores for fun.
“I still go there when I can,” Colville said. “I haven’t been this season yet, but last season I went a few times.
— Levi Colwill (@levi_colwill) October 13, 2020
“I like to come to their stadium or even go on vacation. If I have a chance and they all love me, that’s good.”
Colville will have to miss at least two more Scholing games due to England’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine on Saturday and a friendly against Scotland three days later.
The defender joked that he will “have to catch up” when he returns from a break in the national team, in which many expect the respected defender to make his senior debut.
Colville has earned praise for his confidence and composure on the ball, but that wasn’t always the case: up until three years ago, he called himself “very erratic.”
The defender did not want the ball and said: “If he comes to me, I will hit him the first time,” but something clicked, and an inner desire for more pushed him to develop.
“I think I’m definitely hard on myself,” Colville said. “You know, after the games, if you had a hard day, it will play in my head for the rest of the night, and I think I’m the kind of person who should review the game as soon as possible.
“Because otherwise I’ll just lie there and try to sleep and just remember things. It’s not a very pleasant feeling.
“But I think this is where I push myself. I think not many people can get through to me with what they say or anything, so I have to get to that myself and I think that works best.
“So when I say to myself, ‘You had a bad day at the office,’ I feel like I have something to prove against myself.
“Like, ‘You’re better than that,’ and I think that’s why I’m doing so well so far.”
When asked if he brings work with him, he replied: “Yes, 100 percent, because, you know, football is my life. This is my life, so simple, that’s why being at home, I can’t switch off.
“Anyway, I haven’t learned to switch off yet, so yes, I always try to improve at home whenever I can.”