Euro 2020: Brighton academy boss backs Ben White to shine for England

Brighton academy boss John Morling has no doubt Ben White has the temperament to perform on the big stage.

White, who joined the Albion academy aged 16, made 36 Premier League appearances for Graham Potter’s first team this season.

He progressed through the youth ranks and also had loan spells at Peterborough, Newport and Leeds. White, 23, made an accomplished debut for England against Austria as a second half substitute last week and followed that with an excellent defensive display as he played the full 90 against Romania.

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“It looks like he has been there for a long while. That’s how he is as a person,” said Morling. “He isn’t fazed by anything – or he appears not to be. In order to play how we want to play, you can’t be fearful of having the ball. He can’t be fearful of making mistakes.

Ben White, 23, made his England debut against Austria last week and joined the Brighton academy aged 16

"You want players to always be on it, you want players to make things happen.

“We’ve got to make sure every age group is as strong as possible, so the Ben Whites and Robert Sanchezs of the future get the best opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Too handsome

Ian Wright described Ben White as “too handsome” to be a centre half but the Albion man certainly knows about uglier side of the game as well.

White, 23, is a composed and calm defender and looks at ease on the Premier League and international stages.

He joined the Brighton academy aged 16, having been released by Southampton. Albion knew they had a talent on their hands but it was a loan spell in 2017 at League Two Newport that helped White to develop and perhaps learn the less handsome side of the game.

Newport boss Michael Flynn (right) was impressed from the start.

“He’s unbelievable, he’s so calm, he reads the game so well and technically he’s very, very good,” he says.

“He’s just getting better and better. I said when he was with us that he would play at the top level and would also play for England.

“Turns out he has done both of those things already. I’m absolutely made up for him. I’m also very proud of him.”

At the time of loan in south Wales, White’s future was far from certain. But his ability to adapt to his new surroundings helped shape his career.

He went on to have successful loans higher up the pyramid with Peterborough and then Marcelo Biesla’s Leeds, where he played a major role in the title winning Championship campaign.

“Obviously Brighton had a plan for him,” Flynn added. “He went League Two, League One and then into the Championship.

“He has made every step-up look easy, he has taken it all in his stride. He’s an inspiration to young footballers up and down the country.

“It’s a credit to the way he reacted to the disappointment of being released by Southampton. A lot of players, a lot of lads, would have given up and quit. But that’s not in his nature.”

Former England defender Ashley Cole added, “He is so assured. Going to a big tournament will be difficult but he has that quality, absolutely.”