by Jeff King
16-year-old Sam Johnson became the first player from Chester-le-Street United to represent England at any level whilst at The Club. He made his debut on Friday night in the Centenary Shield International for England Schoolboys Under-18's against the Republic of Ireland.
Not only that but he truly made his mark on the game in sensational style. Coming on as a 57th minute substitute his first touches only a minute later led to England's equaliser.
Controlling the ball well in midfield he played a superb left-foot through ball into the path of forward Bailey Hall who finished with aplomb. The English boys celebrated wildly as Johnson showed despite being a year young that he truly belongs at this level and full justified his inclusion into the squad and game.
A dream debut that Sam, his family, his friends and all at Park View United will never forget and one that marks him out as one for the future with bright prospects ahead.
Sam who came from Durham United Boys Club joined the Park View Academy in September. He plays in the National Football Youth League as part of the Park View Academy programme which ties in with professional club Huddersfield Town.
His coach at Park View is ex-professional Kris Thackray a former England Schoolboy himself who was on the books of Newcastle United and played professional in Italy, Germany, Malta and the UK.
Sam is a combative box-to-box midfielder who's impressive performances in the Academy Under-17's side has earned him a squad place on the Wearside League First Division Chester-le-Street United first team.
The United Chairman and Director of Sport at Park View Academy, Lewis Pendleton, had this to say about the prodigious emerging talent.
"Sam trains full time at Park View and does his strength and conditioning with the guys from CrossFit Chester-le-Street. We are delighted with his progress and are pleased to have played a part in it along with Durham United Boys Club. He has the world at his feet and we're excited to see where he goes from here."
It is another remarkable chapter in the ever-evolving project book that is Chester-le-Street United. Only in inception since 2020 The Club has already seen two players, Harrison Clark at Scottish Premier League side Livingston and Michael Spellman at English League One side Sunderland make it to the professional ranks.
Many a scout traipses the route to potential gold by attending United and Park View's games and Johnson's appearance for England Schoolboys last night will no doubt, deservedly, attract a few more.