Clarke creates history with Wales under-17s

Jon Hunter-Barrett has pinpointed Brayden Clarke’s mentality, focus and drive as key characteristics to his success on the international stage.

Academy defender Clarke, who is still only 15 years of age, was part of the Wales under-17s squad who reached the UEFA European Under-17 Championships finals last month – the first time a Cymru men’s age group has qualified for a major tournament since 1981.

Craig Knight’s side have been drawn in Group A alongside hosts Hungary, Republic of Ireland and Poland, with the tournament getting underway next month. Following regular involvement in the set-up, Clarke will be hoping to secure a place in the squad selected to compete in the finals and academy manager for football Hunter-Barrett, who went out to watch one of the qualifying games, has explained how these experiences can only positively impact the development of a player.

On the experience of playing for your country

“From a player developmental process, it’s a great experience for the lads to go and play against different countries, hear different voices and play with different players.

“I always call it a diet and to add to their diet, you need balance and as they get a little bit older the exposure, if they’re good enough to play for their country, is really good.

“It’s a great developmental experience for all the boys who go to play internationally.”

On Clarke’s mentality at such a young age

“Brayden was coming back from an injury and it shows how much they think of him. He got selected to go having played limited games for our under-16s and 18s respectively.

“They were important games and Brayden’s got that mentality, focus and drive to step into that environment and succeed.

“He’s still only 15 so he’s playing against players that are a year to 18 months older than him, because he’s a young under-16.”

On Clarke’s performances in the qualifying round

“Brayden came on towards the end of the game and it was certainly a competitive game because they needed to get a result, one way or the other.

“A lot of players, not just Brayden, were playing for their lives and to see the trust in putting a young centre back on towards the end of the game shows what they think of him.

“He coped very well and I could see him thriving in that environment.”

On creating history with Wales

“It’s a fantastic achievement for the coaches, players and their families to make history. Everyone wants to be part of history and they’ve gone on to do that now.

“Let’s hopefully see them get some success when they go out to the EURO’s in May.”

On Clarke’s development at Wolves

“Brayden has a really good individual programme to suit his needs and his availability to come in, train and have access to the facilities, staff and the programme.

“He regularly trains with the 18s, but it does help him with all these different experiences he’s getting.”