Former Kent Schools player Chris Smalling is close to making his Premier league debut with Fulham. Chris signed for the Craven Cottage club in June of 2008 after completing his A Levels at Chatham Grammar School for Boys. He was a non-playing substitute in the match against Manchester United at Old Trafford in February, and played in the first team in Fulham’s recent pre-season tour of Australia.
It was back in 2005 that he was nominated for trials for the Kent Schools Under 16 Squad. Kent Schools manager Tom Sellen spotted his potential and he was a regular in the county team for the 2005-6 season. Subsequently, the KSFA’s long-serving Under 18 manager, John Coles, selected him for the county Under 18’s and nominated him for England Schools trials in 2007-8. Chris was selected for the national squad and played in all of the matches in the international programme, including the game against Scotland at Wembley in April 2008.
Chris’s success demonstrates yet again that it is not always necessary to leave school at 16 and join a club in order to become a professional footballer. Staying on at school and getting good qualifications, whilst at the same time enjoying and benefiting from participating in a high standard of schools’ football, can equally well provide the platform for a career in football.
Meanwhile, current Kent Schools Under 18 player and student at Darrick Wood School, Ben Greenhalgh, has made it into the Final 10 in Sky's Football Next Star. Ben made the final 40 and over this weekend at Watford's training ground he has made it through to join nine other finalists who will fly out to Milan in September. The overall winner will win a one year contract with Inter Milan.
From everyone involved in the KSFA we wish Ben the very best in the Finals.