Luke Shaw cannot drive and watched the last World Cup on television as a 14-year-old, but now he is being thrust into football’s fast lane on the global stage.
The precociously talented Shaw won a battle with his boyhood idol Ashley Cole for a left-back spot in England’s World Cup, only two months after he had made his international debut.
It could be the start of many dramatic changes for the Southampton player, who is tipped for a move to Manchester United, Chelsea or another of the top Premier League clubs.
If British media reports of a transfer fee of between £27 million and £30 million ($45 million and $50 million) are true, Shaw could become the most expensive 18-year-old in football.
Shaw, who many already consider the best left-back in the Premier League, admits he is on an incredible football journey.
“When I look back, it is unbelievable how far I have come. I have had two years playing in the Premier League, now I am going to represent my country at the World Cup,” he said at England’s training camp in Portugal this week.
He still does not have a home of his own, having spent most of the past four years lodging with a Southampton family.
“I don’t drive, but one of the young lads drives to training,” Shaw said.
“After the World Cup, I am going to do that intensive course to learn to drive in one week.”
The speed of the changes is not lost on Shaw who could soon be part of the Premier League’s Bentley-driving millionaires.
He said he watched the 2010 World Cup on television and barely remembers anything before. Shaw said he was stunned to be replacing Cole.
“A few years ago I was sat watching Ashley Cole on TV. I’ve always admired him,” said Shaw, a Chelsea fan.
“He was someone I idolised because of the way he played his game. I looked up to him massively. It’s a really weird feeling to be replace someone I’ve idolised.
“He was happy for me and congratulated me though.”
Shaw will start the World Cup – where England are in Group D against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica – as understudy to Leighton Baines.
The teenager insists he will be ready to take any chance that arises and that all the talk of a mega transfer will not affect him.
“That doesn’t bother me one bit,” he said of the talk of a move. “I’m here to play for England and that’s all I’m focusing on.”
Shaw comes from the same club academy that produced Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and England internationals Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Shaw moves forward forcefully, has a pinpoint pass and few attackers get by the defender said to have the best tackling him. Cole, who retired from England duty after 107 games, is among players to have hailed the new star.
Chelsea may be kicking themselves at having rejected Shaw when he was eight years old. Virtually the whole Shaw family are Chelsea fans.
“Seriously, I was let go because of my height,” he said.
“It was only when I was about 14 or 15 I got taller and bigger. I remember the first day of my trial at Southampton. I got a phone call straight away to say they wanted to take me on.”
More calls are coming his way now and many managers are wondering whether Shaw will maintain his poise to become a Premier League and future World Cup superstar.