RISING AFC Sudbury star Freddie King said he was ‘gobsmacked’ after learning he had been selected to represent his country in a European tournament.
King, who celebrated his 18th birthday in January, has been included in the English Colleges FA squad for the tournament in Italy later this month.
It is the latest accolade for Freddie, who is a second-year scholar with the AFC Sudbury Academy and is a regular member of the first-team squad.
Freddie, who scored a hat-trick in AFC Sudbury’s 5-0 victory over Histon in Bostik North on New Year’s Day, was selected in a 26-strong England squad from 300 players nominated across the country.
After playing in a friendly he then attended a training camp at St George’s Park before Christmas, coming on for the final half-an-hour with his side losing 3-2 and setting up the winner in a 4-3 victory.
There then followed a fixture versus Australia at Barnet FC last month, when he again featured for 30 minutes in a 1-1 draw.
Freddie has now been selected in the England squad for the tournament from February 16th-21st involving the hosts as well as Canada, Greece, Kosovo, Moldova and Wales.
Matches will be played at Stadio Anco Marzio in Rome, with England facing Italy, Moldova and Wales in their group.
Freddie, who was born in Harold Wood but moved to Braintree at a young age, said: “I was over the moon when I first heard I had made the England squad – it didn’t really sink in for a couple of days.
“But I was then gobsmacked when I found out I was going to Italy. I was smiling from ear to ear thinking about the chance to play for England in another country.”
In addition to playing in the tournament Freddie, who has not visited Italy before, said he was looking forward to hopefully spending some time sightseeing.
Freddie, who was spotted by AFC Sudbury while playing against them for Maldon’s Eastern Junior Alliance side match and invited for a trial, had nothing but praise for the club’s Academy.
Freddie King (centre) turns away after scoring for AFC Sudbury earlier this season
He paid tribute to his coaches – Danny Laws, Dave Cannon, Craig Power and Jamie Souza – for their part in his development and also first-team manager Mark Morsley.
He said: “As far as I am concerned, the AFC Academy is the best place to be for your football education.
“The staff will bend over backwards to help as much as they can, but only if you really put the effort in. If you are prepared to do that they will re-pay you.
“It is such a good environment to learn in and Mark is keen to bring through the youngsters into the first team.”
Despite attracting interest from professional clubs, Freddie opted to stay with the AFC Sudbury Academy.
“The reason I stayed is that I believe AFC Sudbury offers me the best platform for me to progress through playing regular men’s football,” he added.
AFC Academy Director Danny Laws said: “Freddie has gone from strength-to-strength since he joined at the start of last season. As a first-year scholar he was the first choice centre forward in our FA Youth Cup team as well as making his first-team debut.
“Due to his personal motivation and outstanding work by my staff I knew we had a decent player on our hands.”
AFC Sudbury Mark Morsley said: “Freddie has got a chance, a real chance to make a name in the game. He comes from a stable and hugely supportive family and from a personal point of view I just really like the lad!
“You have to ask why isn’t he playing professional football? Saying that though he and his family are happy now for him to continue with the England team and continuing learning his craft from the hugely experienced Sean Marks and my coaching team of Danny (Laws) and Dave (Cannon) who can be proud of the part they have played.
“No one should under-estimate how outstanding our Academy is and as we build strong ties with top level professional clubs, I believe we will continue to be at the forefront nationally of non-league Academies and elite education centres.”