Burnley legend and World Cup winner John Connelly is the inspiration behind his grandson's rise in football
Jake Connelly grew up on tales of World Cup triumphs and domestic glory.
The 17-year-old winger is the grandson of legendary former England international John Connelly, who played a part in the success of 1966.
That’s all the inspiration the teenager needed to make the grade in football and the Myerscough College student has attributed his call-up to the English Colleges FA national squad to the late, great outside forward.
The Clitheroe FC youngster has been selected as part of a 20-man squad that will travel to Italy next week to take part in the Roma Caput Mundi, a prestigious European tournament where the best players from across Europe represent their countries at Under-19 level.
Connelly, who featured against the Independent Schools FA at St George’s Park in December and in a 1-1 draw against Australia last month, said: “It’s an honour to represent England Colleges. When I was put forward for trials I didn’t know far I would get with it.
“To get through the trials is good, particularly with the quality of some of the boys, but being selected in the final squad for the trip to Italy is great.
“It’s a huge privilege. Out of a squad of 26 there are only 20 of us going to Italy. I’ve just got to work hard and play to my best in these games.
“I want to gain that experience of playing against international teams because the standard is very good. It’s a completely different game at this level, it’s a different kind of football so you’ve got to adapt.
“We played against Independent Schools recently and one of the coaches was saying that there’ll be people [scouts] watching games like these.
“It’s not really an extra incentive, though, because I always play to my best anyway, but this has always been my dream.”
Connelly’s famous grandad - who played alongside Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Charlton and other Three Lions greats in a goalless draw against Uruguay at Wembley in the group stages - was a huge influence.
He would often regale his family with stories from his career having won the English championship with both Burnley and Manchester United.
The outside forward, who died in 2012, scored 105 goals in 265 appearances during his time at Turf Moor and netted 22 times in 80 games in a two-year spell at Old Trafford under Matt Busby.
“My grandad played for England and I want to achieve what he did and get as high as I can,” said Connelly, who helped Fulwood Amateurs win the West Lancashire League Premier Division last season.
“This is a massive opportunity. I always used to go to my grandad’s and play football when I was growing up.
“He always had a lot of stories to tell, but I didn’t realise just how important he was until I got older. It took me a while to realise how big his achievements were and what it meant.
“I’ve always looked up to him. I want to get as close to the success that he had as I can.
“This is a massive achievement for me and there’s a really good feel about doing something for your country.”