Conor Gallagher thought he wasn’t good enough for Scotland (never mind England…) and overcame heart issues to thrive for Chelsea. Now he’s the man to fix the Three Lions’ midfield – and he’s even got the Irish supporting him!

Conor Gallagher is the man that has been charged with breathing new life into England’s underwhelming Euro 2024 campaign. 

Gareth Southgate’s midfield experiment with Trent Alexander-Arnold failed to deliver so Gallagher who came off the bench to replace the Liverpool star in the opening two games, will now start ahead of him in their final Group C clash against Slovenia. 

For some England fans, the inclusion of Gallagher – just like the Three Lions’ start to Euro 2024 – is perceived as an underwhelming one. The Chelsea player is more defensively minded than Alexander-Arnold – one of the most creative players this country has to offer. 

However, whatever shortcomings Gallagher may have in the minds of some, the attributes he provides could give England’s campaign the shot in the arm it badly needs. 

He has overcome a lot to reach the level he is at today, and with the support of his football-mad family and his Irish girlfriend Aine May Kennedy, has gone from a player who once felt he wasn’t good enough to play for Scotland – yet alone England – to the man tasked with being Gareth Southgate’s problem solver. 

Conor Gallagher has been tasked as the man to breath fresh life into England's squad, with the Chelsea man the only player expected to step in and help improve the Three Lions team

Conor Gallagher has been tasked as the man to breath fresh life into England’s squad, with the Chelsea man the only player expected to step in and help improve the Three Lions team

Gallagher will be cheered on by his Irish model girlfriend of five years Aine May Kennedy

Gallagher will be cheered on by his Irish model girlfriend of five years Aine May Kennedy

Gallagher (pictured with his partner) has come a long way from a player who once fought he wasn't good enough to play for Scotland or England and has also battled health issues

Gallagher (pictured with his partner) has come a long way from a player who once fought he wasn’t good enough to play for Scotland or England and has also battled health issues 

Podcast
All episodes
  • EUROS DAILY: Sub-par Scotland sent packing as Lineker rattles EnglandEUROS DAILY: Sub-par Scotland sent packing as Lineker rattles England

  • LISTEN: Why is Declan Rice immune from criticism and can England win?LISTEN: Why is Declan Rice immune from criticism and can England win?

  • Is Kane doing enough for 'chaotically, pathetically bad England?'Is Kane doing enough for ‘chaotically, pathetically bad England?’

  • LISTEN: What Jude Bellingham must do to elevate his gameLISTEN: What Jude Bellingham must do to elevate his game

  • LISTEN: It's All Kicking Off at the Euros. Get the latest action dailyLISTEN: It’s All Kicking Off at the Euros. Get the latest action daily

Play on
Apple
Spotify

Growing up it was not always certain that the Three Lions would be on his shirt, as the midfielder has Scottish ancestry through his maternal grandfather. 

There was a time his international football prospects looked far from promising, as he admitted going into this summer’s Euros: ‘When I was 15 or 16 I wasn’t good enough to play for the England youth team so I think I went to train with one of the Scotland teams to see what I was like, and I wasn’t good enough for them either.

‘I managed to work my way back into the England youth setup and was lucky enough to stay in it.’

Gallagher took time to get himself to being a Chelsea regular, with loan spells at Charlton, Swansea, West Brom and Crystal Palace.

For club and country he has widely been regarded as one of the fittest players in whatever squad he has been in, with his boundless energy to get up and down the pitch and close down opponents proving to be a valuable asset. 

It would be a surprise to some therefore that he he has asthma, admitting that it ‘shocks everyone’ he tells while speaking on the FA show the Lions’ Den, and insisting it his mindset rather than his physical endurance capacity that made him such a fit player. 

Former England midfielder Paul Scholes also famously had asthma, a lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. 

But an issue which presented an even bigger threat to his career was a heart problem that forced him to undergo surgery. 

Gallagher (pictured with brother Josh) previously had heart surgery and also has asthma

Gallagher (pictured with brother Josh) previously had heart surgery and also has asthma

He has come an important player in the eyes of Gareth Southgate (left) who appears to have given up on the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment after just two games at the Euros

He has come an important player in the eyes of Gareth Southgate (left) who appears to have given up on the Trent Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment after just two games at the Euros

In the summer of 2018, while in pre-season training with Chelsea, the then 18-year-old felt his heart beating strangely fast.

Gallagher fell ill in the following days days and went for checks amid concern something was seriously wrong. It was revealed that Gallagher would require minor heart surgery to solve an irregular heartbeat. 

He spent 45 minutes under general anesthetic and as per the Guardian in 2020, was told there was a three per cent chance that surgery would not solve the issue – potentially endangering his football career. 

Gallagher said: ‘I just thought ‘that can’t happen’. I was a bit nervous but in my head I knew I would be fine and push on from that.’

The heart issue was fortunately fixed and it provided added motivation to make the most of his career. 

He explained: ‘I think it was good for me, because sometimes when you’re injured it gives you time to reflect and makes you even hungrier to come back and do well.

‘I remember saying to my mum before the surgery: ‘I just want to get it done so I can work as hard as I can again.’

‘Ever since then I think that’s when I really started to push on. I think it made me not take anything for granted.’

Off the pitch, Gallagher and his model girlfriend regularly share photos of their trips abroad

Off the pitch, Gallagher and his model girlfriend regularly share photos of their trips abroad

Kennedy (left) has 62,000 followers on social media

Kennedy pictured at a LA Dodgers game on her and Gallagher's trip to California

Kennedy has 62,000 followers on social media and is often seen pictured with Gallagher in London (left at Winter Wonderland) or abroad (Kennedy pictured at a LA Dodgers game)

Kennedy (left with Gallagher after the draw with Denmark) regularly attends his games

Kennedy (left with Gallagher after the draw with Denmark) regularly attends his games

Gallagher receives the support of a football-mad family, and he is the youngest of four Chelsea-supporting brothers.

Josh is the manager at non-league Raynes Park Vale FC, with twin Jake on the books there as a player, while Dan is a midfielder for National League side Dorking Wanderers. 

His brother Dan was released by AFC Wimbledon at the age of 19, while Jack had the same fate at Millwall at a similar age. 

Dan told the Premier League‘s website: ‘I think Conor’s seen that, realised how tough it is and he’s taken it upon himself for it not to happen to him.

‘He has that work rate and determination and that’s always been the base for me, Jake and Josh – but obviously Conor’s nicked all the talent as well.’

Gallagher has even got the Irish supporting him, in the form of his partner of five years, Kennedy. 

Together they own a dog named Freddy, a Chow Chow with its own social media page followed by over 1,000 fans. 

Kennedy, who hails from Cork, travelled to London to become a professional dancer but quickly picked up a career in modelling. 

Gallagher is a dog lover and he and his partner's Chow Chow, Freddy, has their own Instagram account with over 1,000 fans

Gallagher is a dog lover and he and his partner’s Chow Chow, Freddy, has their own Instagram account with over 1,000 fans

The pair regularly share photos of Freddy, trips out in London and their travels abroad.

Before the Euros started, they enjoyed a luxury holiday in Spain visiting Marbella and the Spanish islands of Ibiza and Formentera. 

The model went on a holiday with her friends to Paris to celebrate her 27th birthday earlier this year, while she went with Gallagher to California last summer.

There they stayed at the five-star Beverly Hills Hotel – where rooms cost around £1,200 a night.

They went to the Dodger Stadium to watch some baseball, and took a road trip to Palm Springs. 

Together, they are also regulars on the slopes, enjoying skiing trips to spots like Val D’Isere in the French Alps. 

After Chelsea’s final game of the season, Kennedy wrote a touching message to Gallagher on Instagram, in which she said: ‘Another year. My best friend. I am so proud of everything you achieve. Watching you become captain, and what it meant to you this year was speechless. All the ups and downs… yet this year has been one of the best. CG 23.’

On the pitch, Gallagher will be keen to make the most out of his opportunity, as he is set to start alongside Declan Rice in midfield. 

Conor Gallagher’s 2023-24 Premier League stats ranked against Chelsea team-mates

Games – 37 (1st)

Goals – 5 (Joint 4th)

Assists – 7 (2nd)

Chances Created – 53 (2nd)

Shots – 48 (4th)

Shots on target – 18 (4th)

Successful passes – 1766 (4th)

Passing accuracy – 91.50% (2nd) 

Duels won – 212 (1st)

Tackles – 85 (2nd)

Interceptions – 43 (1st)

Possession won – 221 (1st)

Passes into final third – 165 (5th) 

Successful dribbles – 38 (5th) 

Progressive carries – 219 (5th) 

Advertisement

Despite some negativity over his inclusion ahead of Alexander-Arnold, his stats from the 2023-season show why he is set to be included. 

In the Chelsea team no player featured in more Premier League games, won more duels, made more interceptions and regained possession of the ball than Gallagher.

He also ranks second for assists, chances created, passing accuracy and tackles. 

In the Premier League, he ranked ninth overall with 212 duels won over 37 games, and sixth in terms of possessions won at 221. Newcastle’s Bruno Guimaraes tops both lists with 286 duels won, and 237 possessions won. 

It is his reliability and knack to break down attacks from opponents and win the ball which is why Southgate is turning to him tonight. While his assists and chances created numbers at Chelsea, show that he is perhaps more creative than fans give him credit. 

Rice appears to be happy with the decision to include Gallagher alongside him, as he told 5Live’s Football Daily podcast: ‘He is a team-mate I would love to have on my team, he works his socks off, you feel so secure and safe in there with him.

‘I think he has surprised so many people this year with his ability on the ball, how he breaks forward with it, how he gets into the box, scores goals.

‘I think he is a really positive player and he has come on so much over the past few years as well, you can really see that within himself how confident he is.

Gallagher first got his chance of regular first-team football on loan at Charlton Athletic

Gallagher first got his chance of regular first-team football on loan at Charlton Athletic

He then had loan spells at West Brom, Swansea and Crystal Palace (pictured in 2022)

He then had loan spells at West Brom, Swansea and Crystal Palace (pictured in 2022)

He was a regular part of Chelsea's squad last season and was handed the captain's armband in the absence of Reece James

He was a regular part of Chelsea’s squad last season and was handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Reece James

Gallagher made his senior England debut in 2021 and has 15 caps for the Three Lions

Gallagher made his senior England debut in 2021 and has 15 caps for the Three Lions

‘Every time I get to play with Con, it hasn’t been much, I have really enjoyed it because I know him really well as a guy, I know his family really well and he is a lovely boy and it is another great chance to stamp our mark.’

Alexander-Arnold’s issues in midfield were of his no fault, as he was out-of-position and England players don’t make the same runs that those at Liverpool do, where the natural right-back can make the most out of his passing ability – the main reason he would be included in the squad.

Southgate after England’s draw with Denmark said that the Three Lions haven’t replaced Kalvin Phillips and as bizarre of a claim that may be, Gallagher could be the one to tie down that position in midfield with Rice and Jude Bellingham if he helps improves England’s fortunes this summer.  

Theo dõi lichthidau.tv sẽ giúp bạn cập nhật nhanh chóng các tin tức bóng đá, lịch thi đấu, tỷ số bóng đátrực tiếp, kết quả bóng đá cũng như bảng xếp hạng chi tiết của các giải đấu. Ngoài ra, còn có nhiều nhận định bóng đá được chia sẻ, cùng bạn trải nghiệm từng trận đấu hấp dẫn.