April 20, 2024

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Leeds United rejections spurred Ben Godfrey on to England and Premier League success

3 min read
Leeds United rejections spurred Ben Godfrey on to England and Premier League success

Everton defender Ben Godfrey has revealed how he had to cope with rejection from Leeds United and several other clubs before making it as professional footballer. The versatile defender has flourished at Goodison Park, earning his first England call-up, but his path to the top level was not without setbacks.

Godfrey says he was turned down by Middlesbrough, Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley before making a top flight breakthrough. He was shown the door by Boro before unsuccessful trials with Leeds, Wednesday and Barnsley. And it was the Elland Road rejection which spurred him on to prove the doubters wrong.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Godfrey said: “It felt a little bit like the dream was over [after his Middlesbrough release]. After that, there were trials with Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United. None led to a contract. For them to say no was a massive confidence-breaker, really. It looked like the end of the journey.

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“The moment that stands out massively is after that Leeds United trial. The coach told me they were not going to offer me anything but to go and prove him wrong. That stuck with me. I was desperate then. I could not wait to go and prove them wrong.”

After dropping down the pyramid to join his hometown club York City, Godfrey made his debut at the tender age of 17. An impressive loan spell with Shrewsbury Town prompted Norwich City to take a chance on him.

Driven to reach the top and prove people wrong, Godfrey was snapped up by Everton for a fee rising to £25 million with add-ons in the summer of 2020. He was voted Young Player of the Season in his maiden Goodison Park season. His rapid progress earned him two England caps prior to Euro 2020.

“It is a strange old journey,” admitted the 24-year-old. “I looked up to those lads in academies at big clubs when doing my scholarship at York but in the long run is that beneficial for them? I am not so sure. I have friends who were at so-called bigger clubs than me at a younger age and we just passed each other.

“But every path is different, there is not just one route to success, you have to try to consider the best options presented to you in line with your goals. I started out down the non-league route and hopefully that inspires other young players who may have been released that there are different routes to still making it in the game.

“I had to really believe in myself and never forget to put in those extra hours of hard work. I had to have that confidence that I would always make it to where I wanted to be. I am so grateful for the ups and the downs because they have got me to where I am today. I would not change any of it for the world.”

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