Lloyd Kelly has credited his foster care upbringing with helping him fulfil his international dreams.
Bournemouth’s new £13million signing spent half of his life in care with his brother and sister and only left the system two years ago.
Kelly is in Italy with the England Under-21s preparing for Euro 2019 ahead of Tuesday’s opening game with France in Cesena.
But the Bristol-born defender doubts he would have the chance with Young Lions had he not learned lessons growing up in care.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for going into foster care,” said the 20-year-old, who moved to Bournemouth from Bristol City in May.
“I went into foster care when I was about six or seven-years-old and moved around a few homes.
“I just feel everything has a reason. Growing up I wanted to play football but the way my life took me I might be talking to you or doing something else. I’m grateful I can sit here and talk to you and have the career I have.
“I was with my brother (Marcus) and sister (Mary). We moved to three different places throughout the years, different families.
“It was for three or four years each time but we were all together which was nice and us three are now as solid as a rock.
“It was nice we were able to stay together but it was difficult, don’t get me wrong.
“I’m grateful for what everyone has done for me. They didn’t have to, it was nice they were willing to help us.”
The thoughtful centre-back also travelled to Botswana with Bristol City’s Community Trust in 2014 which gave him another view on life.
“The experience of Botswana gave me a different perspective,” he said. “I was so young, I didn’t really know what life was like apart from living in England.
“When we did go out there it was good to see the different aspects of what they had to do. I was speaking to one kid and he had to walk nine kilometres to get to school. It was an eye opener.”
Now, though, Kelly is focused on success with the Young Lions, who also face Romania and Croatia in Group C, ahead of his debut Premier League season.
“It has been a whirlwind. Ending the season at Bristol and not getting into the play offs, then quickly moving on to signing my new deal with Bournemouth,” he said.
“That is always something I have looked for, to play Premier League football. Now, coming away with the 21s, I’m looking forward to the tournament.”
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