EARLSHEATON footballer James Walshaw will realise the dream of every schoolboy footballer when he pulls on the England shirt next Wednesday.
Walshaw has been selected for the England C team, England’s non-league national team, who will face Belgium in the semi-finals of the International Challenge Trophy at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road.
Walshaw is one of only two players, who play outside the Blue Square Premier Division, to be selected for the England squad and the 26-year-old admits it is the culmination of two years hard work in the non-league game.
Walshaw said: “I know it is a cliche but it will be a boyhood dream come true and I am sure I will have to pinch myself when I pull on the England shirt.
“It is the top of the non-league game, it doesn’t get any bigger than this, but I have worked hard in the last two seasons and I have got my just rewards.”
The striker is Guiseley’s leading scorer, having netted 20 goals this time, and his England call-up is the latest in a string of honours for the former Thornhill CC junior player.
In June, Walshaw was named UniBond League player of the year and was then selected for the FA Representative XI, who played Hallam as part of the Sheffield club’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Walshaw scored with a stunning overhead kick as the FA side won 6-1 and that led to his call-up to the England C squad.
Walshaw added: “England scouts have been watching me play for Guiseley and I must have impressed them as I was selected for the representative side — although that was a team made up of players in our league — but the England C team has been picked from all non-league players, so it is a great achievement.”
England C manager Paul Fairclough added: “It’s great for our players, who play non-League football, as it gives them experience of a high technical game. It also exposes them to different styles which they can take back to their clubs.
“Belgium are a very technical side, they will play good football, there won’t be any long ball tactics and they encourage all their players to pass the ball,
Walshaw will be collected from his home on Monday and whisked to a hotel St Albans, where he will meet up with his England teammates.
England C will train on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning before travelling to the ground for the game on Wednesday night.
Walshaw is grateful to his bosses at HomeTeK Solutions in Hartshead for allowing him time off work.
Should England beat Belgium on Wednesday, they will earn home advantage in the final against Italy or Portugal.