Shirebrook schoolboy returns to class after netting England U16 double

NMAC11-2407-2''Shirebrook Academy pupil Mason Bennett aged 15 has been chosen to play for the England Under 17 football team and is a sub for Derby County first team in the league cup.
NMAC11-2407-2''Shirebrook Academy pupil Mason Bennett aged 15 has been chosen to play for the England Under 17 football team and is a sub for Derby County first team in the league cup.

SHIREBROOK schoolboy striker Mason Bennett was back in the classroom just 36 hours after scoring twice for England this week.

The talented 15-year-old - featured in Chad two weeks ago - helped England Under 16s to a 3-1 win in their Victory Sheild match against Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

Watched by a partisan 4,000-plus crowd, including 100 school friends and staff from Shirebrook Academy, and a further 400 people from his hometown village, Mason lit up Chesterfield’s B2Net Stadium with his pace and scoring prowess.

But, according to his PE teacher and form tutor, Andy Gilbert, you might have thought Mason had spent a normal night in front of the TV, such was his quiet and unassuming air when he arrived for lessons two days later.

“Mason just came in at 8.30am and got on with things, as he usually does, even though everyone was talking about him and emailing clips of him in action on Wednesday,” said Andy.

“A load of us went to see him and it was tremendous. It was very surreal seeing him in his England kit, but a great cheer went up when his name was called out and the night just got better and better.

“He was a man among boys really and gave a fantastic performance.”

Andy has watched Mason’s progress over the past two years and says that he is now ‘unteachable’ when it comes to football.

Mason made his first appearance for Derby County’s reserves, aged 14, and was an unused substitute for the team’s Carling Cup match against Shrewsbury Town.

He is scoring for fun for Derby’s Under-18s, represented England Under-17s in the summer and had Sky Sports pundits raving following his latest performance.

“There is no doubt that Mason is one of the most talented footballers I have ever seen,” added Andy.

“He still plays for the school but he is very gracious about it and is very good at helping to coach the others as well.”

It is no surprise that Shirebrook Academy, his former team Shirebrook Rangers, and village folk are extremely proud of Mason, but much of their pride concerns Mason’s modest personality.

“Mason is an extremely popular student because he isn’t a show-off about what he does,” Andy said. “In fact, you have to work hard to coax out of him what he’s been up to because he doesn’t generally talk about it.

“People also admire him because he is polite and very academic too.

“He took some GCSEs early and got some high marks because, even though he trains with Derby County, he puts the work in to make up for it.

“We’re all delighted that he is doing so well with his football and he deserves his success. Watching him was a very proud moment, not only for our school, but for the whole of Shirebrook.”