Most of the talk after England’s 6-0 win over Bulgaria on Monday has been to do with everything other than football. The racist abuse suffered by the Three Lions was horrific but, amid all the atrocity, there was actually a fantastic on-field performance to watch.
One of the main targets of the Bulgarian abuse was centre-back Tyrone Mings, who was making his debut for England in place of Michael Keane. Just by looking at his performance, you would never have guessed that this was a man making his first international appearance.
The Bournemouth man was a breath of fresh air for England. Replacing Keane, who had only recently forced fans to endure a calamitous display against the Czech Republic, Mings showcased the kind of composure and swagger which England have been sorely lacking for what feels like an eternity.
When in possession, Mings looked comfortable on the ball. As a left-footed player, he looked at home to the left of partner Harry Maguire, spraying passes around and keeping England ticking from the back.
Cast your mind back to the 2-1 defeat to the Czechs, and you will remember seeing Keane misplace passes like it was going out of fashion. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with Mings.
His natural composure was not just clear when he was on the ball, but throughout the entire game. In what was an atrocious environment to be making his debut, Mings handled the situation with the utmost professionalism and responsibility.
Despite being subject to barrages of racist abuse, Mings kept a cool head and continued to play his game. On a night on which he had every right to lose his head and put football to the back of his mind, Mings was still at his best.
Not only is that the kind of footballer who you want around, but that is the kind of person Gareth Southgate should want in the squad as a role model.
At 26 years old, Mings has the potential to establish himself as a real leader in the squad, especially at a time in which so many young players are being bled into the squad. He showcased the characteristics which Southgate will want from all his younger talent, and he deserves to be rewarded with a place in the team.
If Mings can maintain this combination of high-level performances and sublime composure, England may be one step closer to finding the defensive answer they are looking for.
For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!