Angel Gomes revealed the major decision to leave Manchester United was down to game time as he gears up for an England Under-21 debut.
Lille snapped up Gomes on a free transfer last year after the attacking midfielder, who had become the youngest United debutant since Duncan Edwards in 1953, rejected a new contract.
The 21-year-old has since shone in the Champions League for the Ligue 1 champions and set for a first appearance for Lee Carsley’s Young Lions in Slovenia on Thursday.
Angel Gomes could make his England Under-21 debut after winning his first Young Lions cap
The 21-year-old won the Under-17 World Cup with England in 2017 while at Manchester United
‘Everyone always says I left for money which, for me, makes no sense,’ Gomes said.
‘Why anyone would leave Man United, the biggest club in the world, with a lot of money, to go to the French league to play for Lille?
‘It was more to do with the pathway and the opportunity that Lille were bringing.
Gomes joined United aged six and spend a decade through the club’s youth system
Gomes made his first team debut for United in May 2017 when he replaced Wayne Rooney
‘It was just a decision I chose to make and nothing to do with personal issues at the club or anything.
‘It was the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made.’ Gomes – heralded as one of the best prospects to come out of United’s academy – leaned on godfather and ex-United winger Nani for counsel in the months before departing Old Trafford.
‘There was a lot of pressure and a lot of negativity which came from that,’ he added. ‘I spoke to him about it. His influence has been massive for me.
‘He was someone I grew up idolising, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. With me he was amazing, humble and normal.
‘If anything, he’s shown me more off the pitch than on the pitch. On the pitch I could watch videos and watch him live, but off the pitch he was surreal.’
Gomes captained England to Under-17 World Cup glory in 2017 as England beat Spain 5-2