STALYBRIDGE Celtic’s Liam Tongue regards it as a honour after being chosen to captain the England Universities football team in the forthcoming Home Internationals.
“There are 125,000 students playing university football so there was a lot of competition to get into the team,” explained the 21-year-old who is studying physical education at Liverpool’s John Moores University.
Tongue, who lives at Hattersley, captained England last season in friendlies against Scotland and Manchester United Under-23s.
“This is different as it is a tournament featuring the home nations in Wales over the Easter holidays,” explained the versatile Tongue who can play full-back, centre-back or midfield.
The former pupil at St James’, Hattersley, and St Thomas More, Denton, went through a number of trials.
He was shortlisted for a squad of 16 from the northern universities and they took on the 16 best players from the southern universities before the England squad was finalised.
England have a friendly fixed up against AFC Bournemouth’s U23 side in preparation for the tournament.
Tongue added many of the England team play semi-pro football of a comparable standard to Evo-Stik League.
He is hoping playing for England may help enhance his dream of becoming a full-time pro.
Tongue had five years at Manchester City between the ages of eight and 13 when he played alongside David Brooks who now plays for AFC Bournemouth and Wales, Kean Bryan who now at Sheffield United and Brandon Barker who is currently on loan at Preston North End from City.
Tongue, who will remain at university next year to gain a teaching qualification, later had spells at Oldham Athletic and Burnley but he sustained breaks to both knees that interrupted his progress.
He is in his second spell at Celtic having also played non-league for Cheadle Town and Marine.
And in junior football for Fletcher Moss, Tongue counted Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England striker, as a team-mate.
Tongue, who left Celtic for Marine last season after he was unable to command a regular place, is delighted to be back and working with new manager Simon Haworth and his assistant Gareth Roberts.
He said: “The gaffer played for Wales against Brazil and Gareth played against Luis Figo (Portuguese legend) so they know the game inside out.
“I have been involved in every game except one when I was injured and they are two of the best managers I have worked for.
“They are approachable and they have improved me as a footballer and also off the pitch.”
Haworth said: “It is a great accolade for Liam to be chosen to captain England Universities and it is a deserved pat on the back for a very good season with us.
“Liam is a very good footballer and a good character and he is one of the players we are keen to keep next season.”