'Fantastic achievement' - Prolific young Whitehawk striker selected for England under-18 squad

Billie Clarke from Brighton has been selected for the England under-18 Schoolboys’ squad

Billie Clarke from Brighton has been selected for the England U18 Schoolboys’ squad
Billie Clarke from Brighton has been selected for the England U18 Schoolboys’ squad

The English Schools’ Football Association has announced the England under-18 Schoolboys’ squad for the 2021/22 season and Billie Clarke from Brighton has been selected in the 18.

Following a rigorous trials process that saw two regional rounds followed by a final trial at Lilleshall National Sports Centre towards the end of December, the ESFA has selected its squad of 18 schoolboys to wear the prestigious three lions shirt for this international season.

Clarke joined the Whitehawk first team squad as a 16-year old in 2020. He was joint leading scorer in the Isthmian South Youth League in 20-21 before the season was curtailed due to covid.

He made his first full start in November 2021 against Whitstable Town, just after being selected in the English Colleges national squad. Billie scored his first senior goal against Herne Bay in November 2021.

Clarke and the young England squad will start their international campaign with a kit collection event on Saturday 29 January. They will then play their first friendly fixture against the RAF, where the boys will get a chance to play together for the first time.

A preparatory training camp awaits in February where the boys will get a chance to work with the ESFA coaching team and prepare for their competitive fixtures in the SAFIB Centenary Shield through March and April.

The England squad’s Centenary Shield campaign will commence with a trip to Northern Ireland on the 25th of March with the fixture being played at Portadown Football Club from 7pm.

The Squad will then host Scotland at Spennymoor Town FC before traveling South to host the Republic of Ireland at Eastleigh FC on Friday 8th April.

They will then round off their Centenary Shield campaign with a trip to Llansawel to face the Welsh on Thursday 14th April.

Due to an exciting new broadcast deal, the team’s Centenary Shield matches will be broadcast live on BBC platforms with games being shown on BBC Iplayer, the BBC Sports App and connected red button.

This is an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of schools’ football in its entirety and allows the U18 England Squad’s Centenary Shield to be viewed and enjoyed by a new and broader audience.

Mark Hignett, ESFA Chairman said “We are delighted to be able to name this year’s England U18 Schoolboys’ Squad.

"It’s a fantastic achievement for these players to have made it through what is a tough trials process, to be able to go on and represent their School, District, County and their Country for this year’s International Season.

"On behalf of the English Schools’ FA, I would like to congratulate each and every selected boy on their achievement and also pass on my thanks to their parents for the commitment and support they have also shown.”