STEPHEN Clarke’s rapid rise has culminated in selection for the Great Britain under 19s squad.

The 18-year-old from Birchwood is at a training camp in Denmark this week, after which where he hopes to be picked for an competition in Sweden in July.

Alongside fellow Warrington-based player Rafiq Tahraoui, he has already represented the men’s national team at a tournament in France, scoring goals in both matches he played.

That was a progression from playing for England at under 16s, 18s, 19s and 23s levels, which handed him action in Partille in Sweden, Ochtrup in Germany, Nerja in Spain, Aarhuus in Denmark, Dublin in Ireland and Antalya in Turkey.

Handball, a high profile professional sport on the continent, is rising fast in British schools which is how Clarke became hooked at the age of 15.

After his first taste with Birchwood High School he was chosen to play for the sport’s first UK centre of excellence in 2009, the Warrington Wolves Handball Academy.

Within a month Clarke was selected for Cheshire and he then joined England Handball Association’s Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence at Padgate’s Chester Campus, studying and training as a professional athlete for two years.

His talent continued to shine through.

Upon leaving the Wolves academy he joined Liverpool Handball Club men’s team and has since moved to Salford Handball Club.

He continues to mix his sport with furthering his education, training for approximately 15 hours per week and studying on a sports rehabilitation course at Salford University.