Early schoolboy success and sporting heritage – Five things about Ben Godfrey

Ben Godfrey has received his first senior England call-up in Gareth Southgate’s provisional squad for this summer’s European Championship.

The 23-year-old defender has been rewarded for a fine first season with Everton.

Here, the PA news agency gets to know Godfrey.

Schoolboy honours

Born in York Godfrey showed his talents early by captaining the York and District Schoolboys under-13 team to victory in a major national competition. It was the first time a team from York had won an English Schools’ Football Association competition. Godfrey started his career in the Minstermen’s youth system. He moved to Middlesbrough and had trials with Leeds before returning to his hometown club, making his first-team debut aged 17.

Sporting heritage


Godfrey has sporting genes in the shape of father Alex, who was a professional rugby league player. He started with York Wasps and, following the club’s demise,  scored the first try for new outfit York City Knights. Godfrey also played for Dewsbury and Hull KR.

Big breakthrough

Godfrey had only made five starts for York in League Two when Norwich signed him on his 18th birthday, initially for the academy team. He had a successful season on loan at Shrewsbury in 2017-18 and forced his way into the Norwich side the following season, playing a key role in promotion to the Premier League.

Everton move

Despite Norwich being relegated straight back to the Championship, Godfrey attracted attention and he joined Everton last October, with the move providing York with a financial lifeline via a sell-on clause. He made his debut later the same month in the Merseyside derby and has excelled ever since despite having to play in various different positions. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti said: “He was a fantastic signing in the summer.”


Godfrey, who has captained England at under-21 level, has a number of pre-match superstitions. The 23-year-old always leaves a water bottle in a specific place as he prepares for a game while he insists on being the fourth player to run out onto the pitch.

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