Stevenage FC boss Steve Evans shares glowing account of Ben White's character as debate continues over controversial England decision

By Layth Yousif

26th Mar 2024 | Football


Stevenage boss Steve Evans has given Ben White a glowing character testimonial as the debate continues over the talented defender's controversial England decision. CREDIT: This image is licensed to Layth Yousif/The Gooner Fanzine only. Any unauthorised use of this photograph will result in breach of copyright.
Stevenage boss Steve Evans has given Ben White a glowing character testimonial as the debate continues over the talented defender's controversial England decision. CREDIT: This image is licensed to Layth Yousif/The Gooner Fanzine only. Any unauthorised use of this photograph will result in breach of copyright.

Stevenage FC boss Steve Evans gives glowing account of Ben White's character as debate continues over controversial England decision

With England captain Declan Rice joining the ongoing conversation as to whether club colleague White should come out of self-imposed international retirement ahead of Euro 2024, Stevenage boss Evans has shared his hearteningly positive recollections of the player.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate appointed Rice, 25 as captain to lead out England vs Belgium at the national stadium on Tuesday evening - in recognition of the Arsenal midfielder's 50th cap.

While delighted Rice admitted he was left 'speechless' by the accolade during his pre-match press conference on Monday afternoon, many questions were aimed at whether he could persuade Gunners colleague White, to agree to reverse his controversial decision never to play for England again.

Defender White elected not to be involved in this month's friendlies and the 26-year-old has not featured in the England squad since the 2022 World Cup.

While Rice agreed he would try to talk his club teammate out of his stance, Stevenage boss Evans gave a glowing testimonial of White's character.

Speaking to Nub News at Stevenage's training ground Bradbury End, the experienced Evans - who had the talented White on loan with him when he was boss of Peterborough back in 2019, shared his memories of the defender.

"What was he like," asked the charismatic Evans, before sharing his memories of White, saying: "He was a great kid, a quiet kid.

"Ben is an unassuming kid - but he's talented, super technical.

"Technically, he can pass it, he heads well, he can defend, he's quick, he's strong - great characteristics to have as a young player.

"As a man he's big on family. Very, very tight with mum and dad - I loved that - and the fact he was so proud of it. He didn't hide it in one-on-one chats you had with him as his manager."

White spent five formative years with Brighton, going on loan to various clubs including Peterborough and Leeds, before departing from the Amex, after being signed by Premier League giants Arsenal for £50m in 2021 - and hasn't looked back since.

The hugely-experienced Evans, who also bossed another of White's former loan clubs, Leeds, recalls White during his time on loan at London Road when Evans was Peterborough supremo.

"When he signed, I didn't say to him, 'just go and play a real high level of football right now.'

"I didn't expect him to be an astronaut on planet Earth.

"But he's developed - and you must give the lad so much credit for that.

"As well as Mikel Arteta at Arsenal. And people at Leeds before that - you must give them all enormous credit.

"Ben brought a technical side to his game at Arsenal - they've paid £50/£60 million whatever it is - and they've improved them again. Wonderful, wonderful."

What does the passionate Evans say about the well-known fact that White rarely watches football away from his day job.

Evans thinks before responding, saying: "Ben would also be very quiet, unassuming, frosty, even, to those that didn't know him - but I would say he was simply a very unassuming lad.

"What I would also say - and I've said this about plenty of players I've had over the years - but Ben's another one.

"What I would say, is that if he sits in the passenger seat of your car, and he's your son.

"Your chest will be beating with pride at the thought of him as your son - or your son-in-law."

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