Captained York schoolboys, had trials with Leeds United and his dad played rugby league for Hull KR... meet England new boy Ben Godfrey

Ben Godfrey has received his first senior England call-up in Gareth Southgate’s provisional squad for this summer’s European Championship.

Ben Godfrey (front) and Christoph Zimmermann celebrate Norwich City's promotion from the Championship.
Ben Godfrey (front) and Christoph Zimmermann celebrate Norwich City's promotion from the Championship.

The 23-year-old defender has been rewarded for a fine first season with Everton.

Here’s how Godfrey emerged onto the international scene.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Schoolboy honours:

Barnsley's Adam Hammill challenges York's Ben Godfrey back in 2015. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Born in York Godfrey showed his talents early by captaining the York and District Schoolboys under-13 team to victory in a major national competition. It was the first time a team from York had won an English Schools’ Football Association competition. Godfrey started his career in the Minstermen’s youth system. He moved to Middlesbrough and had trials with Leeds before returning to his hometown club, making his first-team debut aged 17.

Sporting heritage:

Godfrey has sporting genes in the shape of father Alex, who was a professional rugby league player. He started with York Wasps and, following the club’s demise, scored the first try for new outfit York City Knights. Godfrey also played for Dewsbury and Hull KR.

Big breakthrough:

Godfrey had only made five starts for York in League Two when Norwich signed him on his 18th birthday, initially for the academy team. He had a successful season on loan at Shrewsbury in 2017-18 and forced his way into the Norwich side the following season, playing a key role in promotion to the Premier League.

Everton move:

Despite Norwich being relegated straight back to the Championship, Godfrey attracted attention and he joined Everton last October, with the move providing York with a financial lifeline via a sell-on clause. He made his debut later the same month in the Merseyside derby and has excelled ever since despite having to play in various different positions. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti said: “He was a fantastic signing in the summer.”


Godfrey, who has captained England at under-21 level, has a number of pre-match superstitions. The 23-year-old always leaves a water bottle in a specific place as he prepares for a game while he insists on being the fourth player to run out onto the pitch.

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.