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.
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.
Speaking to Kent on Sunday, Chris said “There are no real injury worries at the club in defence so it is hard to say when I will get my chance in the first team. I have been travelling with them for the last few games so I feel I am closer to getting into the team. I feel I have coped well with the step up in football.”
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.