Norfolk teen named man of match for England Schoolboys

Ashton Fox was named man of the match for England Schoolboys on his competitive debut

Ashton Fox was named man of the match for England Schoolboys on his competitive debut - Credit: Garry Griffiths | ThreeFiveThree Photography

A talented Norfolk teenager was named player of the match on his competitive debut for the England Schoolboys football team. 

Ashton Fox, who plays for Dereham Town, fulfilled a dream when he pulled on his country's shirt against Northern Ireland on Friday, March 25. 

Ashton Fox celebrates with team mates after England Schoolboys scored against Northern Ireland

Ashton Fox celebrates with team mates after England Schoolboys scored against Northern Ireland - Credit: Garry Griffiths | ThreeFiveThree Photography

He was given man of the match as the under-18s emerged as 2-1 winners in the Centenary Shield being played between the home nations. 

Some of English football's best-ever players have represented England Schoolboys over the years, including Michael Owen, Sol Campbell, Jamie Carragher - and even Ryan Giggs. 

Delighted by Fox's latest success is Tom Parke, coach at Dereham Town's academy, who said the whole club had immense pride. 

He added: "Ashton has been with me all the way through at Dereham, so it has been great watching him progress and seeing his rise. 

Ashton Fox is the only Norfolk player to be chosen as part of English Schools' Football Association

Ashton Fox was named man of the match on his competitive debut for England Schoolboys. He is pictured playing for Dereham Town - Credit: Dereham Town FC

"We always had high hopes for him, but he's really managed to impress and has even been made vice-captain.

"We are super proud of him and I feel he is really going to go far."

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Fox joined Dereham Town at the age of 13 and came through the ranks at the club's Personal Best Soccer set-up for 11 to 16-year-olds. 

He then progressed to Dereham Education Soccer Academy (DESA), a programme which combines playing football with classroom learning. 

Ashton Fox, from Dereham, in action for England Schoolboys under-18s

Ashton Fox, from Dereham, in action for England Schoolboys under-18s - Credit: Garry Griffiths | ThreeFiveThree Photography

Along the way, Fox switched from playing centre-midfield to centre-back and has become a mainstay in Dereham Town's first team this season as they bid to earn promotion from the Isthmian League North

And the 18-year-old came through a series of trials, including at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre, to be selected for the schoolboys in December. 

His dad, John Fox - a former Dereham Town goalkeeper - revealed the defender's best asset was his unwavering commitment.

"To get in that schoolboys side is a real achievement, but he is very level-headed lad," he said.

England Schoolboys taking on Northern Ireland

England Schoolboys taking on Northern Ireland - Credit: Garry Griffiths | ThreeFiveThree Photography

"His diet is good, his training too, and he is committed to the cause of trying to get better and do as well as he can. I am not just proud of him for how he is on the pitch, but off the pitch as well.

"He owes a lot to Tom and the other coaches at Dereham. It's thanks to them that he is where he is."