TEENAGE Fareham hockey hot-shot Charlie Cook has been picked for play for England under-18s in Germany next year – even though he’ll be two years younger than most of his peer group.

Squad selection for the 15-year-old comes on the back of some eye-catching performances for the England under-16s, initially against Ulster last summer and, more recently, in international tournaments in Holland and Germany.

Cook, who has already made his mark in Fareham’s Western Conference side this autumn, celebrated his 15th birthday with a goal against Ulster and bagged another five on European soil, scoring twice in the 4-4 draw with Spain, a brace against Scotland and another goal in the 6-2 win over Austria in Frankfurt.

He is coached at Seaford College by former Great Britain international Ben Barnes, Fareham’s past coach at Henry Cort Community College, who explained: “It’s very unusual for England to pull players up a year group, they don’t do it without a great deal of thought.

“Charlie had a great summer for the under-16’s and they have rewarded him with the call up to the 18’s.

“He is a confident and very capable hockey player, but I know he will keep his head down and work harder than ever to make the most of the opportunity. He knows where he wants to get to and is very determined.

“I saw him training out in the last light at school the other afternoon when the pitch lights failed, rather than stopping, he carried on until it was almost pitch black. We just got the brightest yellow balls out to keep going for as long as possible.

“It’s that kind of work ethic that has got him this far. He knows he will have to keep it going for more success as the competition for places is very high.”

Hockey has been in Charlie’s blood almost since he began to walk and run – his father Nigel having been a prominent player for Fareham in their Bath Lane days and, more recently, the town team’s coach and manager.

“I was about four years old when dad bought me my first hockey stick and a couple of years later I began playing mini’s for Fareham’s under-8 team,” Charlie recalled.

Selection for England has far from being straightforward for Cook, who had to impress at several trial weekends before being picked for the under-15s.

He said: “The weekends were pretty demanding. Up early and on the training pitches soon after breakfast, working on individual and team skills, on top of working out in the gym.

“It was hard work, but the rewards are there. Believe me, I shall be giving it everything. This is a wonderful opportunity and I don’t plan to miss it.”

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