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Wolves youngster Brayden Clarke making history with Wales

At such a young age, Brayden Clarke has already made footballing history.

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The 15-year-old prodigy has been making waves coming through at Wolves, but is now establishing himself on the international scene.

Last week, Clarke was part of the Wales under-17 squad that qualified for the European Under-17 Championship finals for the first time in the country's history.

As the only member of the final squad that moved up a year to play with the under-17s, Clarke and his team-mates then enjoyed a lap of honour at half-time as the senior Wales side beat Latvia 1-0.

Now, Clarke is preparing to travel to Hungary in May for the finals, where Wales will face the host nation, as well as the Republic of Ireland and Poland, in Group A.

"It's a massive achievement, especially playing in the year above," said Darren Ryan, the elite player development manager at Wolves.

"He was probably disappointed he didn't get as much minutes, but he's only just come back from injury, so it's a fantastic achievement for Brayden.

"To make history is fantastic. What an opportunity now to go play for his country in a tournament."

Clarke is the son of former Albion, Wolves and Blues midfielder Nigel Quashie and signed with the Wolves academy in 2017, aged nine.

Having played through the ranks at both Wolves and Wales, the centre-back has regularly played at higher age groups.

The teenager is home schooled and now trains full-time with Wolves under-18s, and has even made his under-21 debut with Wolves this season.

Brayden Clarke for Wales

With his country, he has played dozens of times at under-15, under-16 and under-17 level – while also captaining both Wolves and Wales in the under-16s.

He does not turn 16-years-old until July, yet Clarke made his first Wales under-17s appearances just two months after his 15th birthday – going on to play a big part in the first round of qualifiers.

An ankle injury that he sustained playing for Wolves under-18s in January halted his progress and needed rehabilitation, but the promising defender has fought back to end the season on a high.

"We've always seen his potential and he's very good technically," Ryan added.

"He plays through the lines really well and he's very comfortable on the ball.

"Where he's developed a lot is his maturity and psychologically. He's a really young kid, so it's one massive achievement that he's got into that group, let alone the impact he's had.

"His super strength is his passing through the lines, and his disguised passes as well. The way he's developed in the last 12-18 months, I've seen a big change in him getting more confident.

"He's really finding his feet and becoming comfortable in the under-18s at Wolves, which has helped him play a year above for his national team as well.

"The background with his family helps. Nigel and his mum Kerry are really level-headed and both understand the academy system.

"It's a fantastic achievement for Brayden, and now we need him to have a strong finish to the season and keep getting games under his belt."

Clarke's success is also a source of pride for Ryan and the staff at Wolves academy.

He said: "It's what the job is all about!

"We're here to produce their footballers for the first team, and when you get international recognition, which a lot of our players are, it proves how tremendous the staff have been.

"It's the recognition we deserve as a club. We have some really good players coming through the academy system, and it's about getting them these opportunities before working towards the end goal of playing at Molineux for the first team."

Having overcome that injury and getting back into the Wales squad, Clarke has a busy end to the season with club and country.

This week he is part of a Wolves under-17s group playing in Turin, Italy, in a tournament that includes teams such as Juventus, Torino and Atalanta.

Once he returns, he will finish the under-18s season with Wolves, before leaving for Hungary with Wales next month.

"We'll be supporting him out there – some Wolves staff will head over to hopefully watch him have an impact on the tournament," Ryan added.

"It makes a difference, especially with the family, when the club supports them and our football club does that.

"He has a really busy month coming up, so he has to juggle all that with his exams. It'll be a challenging few months for him physically and mentally.

"He's overcome his injury setback and has done so well. He worked so hard to come back, and now he's back, it's all about getting more game time now and spending more time with the under-18s, before heading off with Wales.

"We need to maintain his fitness levels and get him the minutes he needs before leaving for the Euros."