Ivan Toney ramps up war of words with Arsenal over ‘cringeworthy’ tweet | England

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Ivan Toney has escalated his war of words with Arsenal’s players by calling their mockery of him on social media cringeworthy.

Toney became an unpopular figure at Arsenal after tweeting “Nice kick about with the boys” after Brentford’s 2-0 win against them at the start of last season. The tweet was used as motivation by Mikel Arteta when Brentford visited the Emirates Stadium last February and it came up again when the sides met at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday.

Arsenal fans celebrated their team’s 3-0 win by aiming derisive chants at Toney, who has been called up by England for the first time, and the mockery continued after the game.

Gabriel Magalhães, the Arsenal centre-back, took aim at the striker by tweeting: “Nice kick about with the boys”. Toney suggested it could be time for Arsenal to come up with some new material, pointing out that Alexandre Lacazette, who has since left for Lyon, tweeted the same joke after Arsenal beat Brentford in February.

“I think once was funny, second time a bit cringey but I bit my tongue,” he said. “I wanted to reply, I wanted to nibble but fair play to them. They are a different Arsenal side to what we played before and they played very well.”

Toney hopes to make his England debut in the Nations League against Italy in Milan on Friday. The 26‑year‑old has had an impressive rise since failing to make the grade at Newcastle and moving to Peterborough in 2018. “That was an eye‑opener. That was: ‘Right, I have to turn my game around to get back up – I might see myself as a Premier League player but I am a League One player now. I have got to keep fighting and working hard.’ And I certainly did that.”

Toney’s goalscoring exploits for Peterborough earned him a move to Brentford in 2020 and he has continued to develop since helping them win promotion to the Premier League. Although he does not bear a grudge towards Newcastle he admits being rejected by them spurred him on.

“That was a factor that did come into play. I felt like: ‘You got rid of me, I am going to show you what I am capable of when I get the chance, whether it is a Premier League side or a League One side.’

“When I left Newcastle and went to Peterborough I wasn’t straight in the team so I had to work much harder. Other strikers in front of me who were scoring goals. It was about being patient and when your chance comes you have to take it.”

With World Cup places up for grabs, Toney has a chance to establish himself as one of Harry Kane’s deputies. Part of his appeal is his nerveless penalty technique, though he made sure not to trip himself up when asked whether he was better at spot‑kicks than England’s captain. “He’s done it on a bigger stage,” Toney said. “So I’ll say Harry Kane.”

Toney, who spoke about the support he has received from his parents, found out about his England call-up from his manager, Thomas Frank. “I was driving to training and the Brentford gaffer called me,” he said. “I was running a bit late so thought he was calling about my timekeeping. Then he said: ‘I have the privilege to say you have been called up to the England senior squad.’ For once in my life I had nothing to say … I was just thinking: ‘Wow I am actually going to play with the England team.’

“It took me a while to register and I was just answering the gaffer’s questions. Then I came off the phone and rang my parents. We have a family group chat. I broke the news and they were just screaming for 20 minutes. Everyone going crazy. It was a massive moment for my whole family.”

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