Ashington CFC midfielder Dean Briggs has made the final cut for the England Schoolboys’ Under-18s squad.
The 17-year-old, who signed for the Colliers at the beginning of the season, has made rapid strides this term and is hoping that his selection into a pool of 18 will enhance his chances of turning a boyhood dream into a reality.
For Newcastle born Briggs, who is in the final year at Gateshead College as he strives to achieve a level three diploma in sport, still has his heart set on becoming a professional footballer .
Wideopen-based Briggs, son of Ashington’s assistant manager Perry, was linking up with his England colleagues this week for a friendly against Australia at Stafford FC.
In mid-February he will attend a training camp at Lilleshall before meeting up again where England will be one of five sides – alongside Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – who will contest the Centenary Shield during March and April.
Any ecstatic Briggs, who played for New Hartley Juniors last term, said: “I’m thrilled to bits. I had to wait four days before learning that I had made the final squad and it was nerve wracking, but it has been worth it.
“I feel privileged to be considered as being amongst the best 18 young players in the country and it is a dream come true to represent your country.
“To go on and win the shield would be the icing on the cake.”
As for hopes of making it into the professional ranks, Briggs, who had a trial with Wolverhampton Wanderers last month, added: “There will be loads of scouts at the tournament and all it will take is for me to have one good game.”
England’s programme will see them have home games against Scotland at Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park and the Republic of Ireland at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate whilst facing Wales at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground and Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Ashington manager Gary Middleton said: “This is fantastic news for Dean and his parents will be extremely proud.
“It is a great achievement to be named in any England squad and he has done it at under-18 level, which will hopefully be a stepping stone for a big future in the game.
“He has performed extremely well for us as a 17-year-old playing in the Northern League, and if the performances he has shown for Ashington are anything to go by, he will be playing a major part in the England Under-18’s squad this season.”