Inside shock England star’s meteoric rise – from faculty event to Euros

Its been a whirlwind few months for Adam Wharton.

At the turn of the year he was turning out for a struggling Blackburn Rovers, fighting tooth and nail for survival in the Championship; fast forward four months, and after a big move to Premier League side Crystal Palace, he’s on the cusp on the England squad.

Wharton was a somewhat surprising name in the week as Gareth Southgate named his 33-man preliminary squad – which later has to be cut down to 26 ahead of the Euros this summer.

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It’s been quite the journey for Wharton, who first got a taste of Wembley way back in 2015 as part of the Utilita Kids Cup. The competition is one of the country’s largest national football competitions – and it culminates with a Wembley final.

Wharton, who was at Salesbury Church of England Primary School, won the tournament when his primary school earned the right to represent Blackburn Rovers in the competition.

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Adam Wharton
Adam Wharton (bottom right) first played at Wembley as a school boy

“It was my whole life back in the day and it still is,” Wharton explained when recalling his relationship with the tournament. “It’s great to be able to play and enjoy yourself, especially as a kid.

“We played in the tournament every year with a bunch of schools from Blackburn. When you win that, you go onto another tournament where you represent Blackburn.

“We went to Bolton Academy for the next tournament, where we played other Clubs from the Championship at the time with schools representing them, such as Wigan and others.

Adam Wharton
Adam Wharton has played for England at youth level

“We won that and went to the Final, where we played at Wembley against a team representing Bournemouth before the 2015 Play-Off Final on the pitch. We won on penalties 3-2 and then got to watch the Play-Off Final.”

“It was one of the best moments of my life at the time,” he added. “I’ll never forget the day. It was a great moment and something I look back on, for sure. Those are the moments that stick with you, no matter what you go on to achieve in your career.

“The more kids that can experience them moments, the better.”

Adam Wharton
Adam Wharton has impressed for Crystal Palace

Wharton signed for Crystal Palace from Blackburn for £18m, with add-ons taking it to £22m, on 1 February this year.

And the midfielder has gone from strength-to-strength in London under Oliver Glasner – starting the past 15 matches, picking up three assists and becoming a key part in the Frenchman’s new 3-4-3 formation.

Wharton made his debut for the England Under-21 side in March after initially being called up to the England Under-20s – and he now stands on the cusp of his first senior cap.