Uncapped West Ham winger and former Tooting and Mitcham United youngster Michail Antonio was called up to manager Sam Allardyce’s England squad this week, and the chairman of his first club could not be more proud.

Antonio is now in contention to run out against Slovakia later today (Sunday, September 4), as England’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off in Trnava.

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The 26-year-old started his senior career with Tooting and Mitcham United, scoring on his debut away to Hendon in 2007.

Antonio had come through the youth ranks, playing five seasons with the Terrors’ junior teams, before breaking into the senior side.

Club Chairman Steve Adkins is understandably proud of Antonio, and says it was apparent, even early on, that the Wandsworth-born winger was destined for great things.

Adkins told the Wimbledon Guardian: “He was an exceptional talent and that was noted. He had lots of clubs looking at him: Chelsea, Arsenal, and then he signed for Reading.

“(Since then), his career has just gone from strength to strength. He has finally made his ambition of an England call-up.

“It’s been great.”

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After a season at Tooting and Mitcham’s Imperial Fields in Morden, Antonio signed with Championship side Reading (pictured above) in 2008 for £25,000 and was farmed out on loan to clubs including Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Colchester United.

He eventually signed for West Ham United and in recent seasons has impressed more and more. After his England call-up week, national boss Sam Allardyce described Antonio as “a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goal scorer”.

Tooting and Mitcham Chairman Adkins believes Antonio’s rise from non-league football to the Premier League with West Ham United – which perhaps has a parallel in Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy’s career pathway – offers hope to late bloomers in football.

“It’s so exciting for people in football for another non-league player to get that far,” he said.

“Kids get picked up by clubs these days at five to seven years old.

“But Michail is an example of someone who comes later on in life. He is a role model. It says, ‘Look, you can come through’.

“It shows there is another pathway.”

From March: West Ham United star Michail Antonio returns to his Tooting & Mitcham United roots

Despite his meteoric rise to success, Antonio remains humble. Adkins describes him as a “really nice guy” who even finds time to revisit his old team, and who “naturally” mentors aspiring young players.

“He spent hours down here a couple of months ago just training and mentoring all the kids,” Adkins explained.

“It’s not about publicity for him. It’s about him wanting to come back to his roots.

“We’re just so fortunate that he sees Tooting and Mitcham United as his roots.”

On Sunday, Antonio, who started his career in Tooting and Mitcham and developed a far-off ambition of running out for England, may realise his dream.

Adkins added: “We couldn’t be more proud.”

England play Slovakia at 5pm today (Sunday, September 4).