JUST four years after lining up together in midfield for York City juniors, Ben Godfrey and Ronaldo Vieira were reunited as England under-20 team-mates during the international break.

Little could the Minstermen, or indeed opponents Hull City, have known in 2015 that more than £16million worth of talent was on the field in a long-forgotten Football League Youth Alliance clash.

But that is the minimum value seemingly placed on the heads of two of English football’s hottest prospects now.

At the time, York College student Vieira was on trial with City’s under-18 squad but went on to join Leeds United, who sold him to Italian giants Sampdoria for £6.2million last year.

Ex-Archbishop Holgate pupil Godfrey, meanwhile, went on to make 15 appearances and score one goal for the Minstermen’s first team before moving on his 18th birthday to Norwich, where a string of impressive performances for the Championship table-toppers have seen him become the subject of rumoured £10million interest from Manchester United and Liverpool.

On linking back up with Vieira for international duty, Godfrey told The Press: “I think we played one or two games together in midfield for York’s youth team.

“I can definitely remember one match against Hull, so it was a decent partnership for the club, but York didn’t sign him for whatever reason and I’ve never really been able to understand that. There’s no way we could have imagined then that we’d have been playing for England just a few years later.

“That seemed so, so far away and it’s been some journey. You obviously dream about stuff like that and wish that it could happen, but it just shows you never know what’s around the corner in football and, hopefully, we’ll both carry on moving forward in the game.”

Vieira has represented the Three Lions before but, for Godfrey, the 3-1 home defeat to Poland and Tuesday’s 1-0 loss in Portugal represented his first caps and, on the thrill of taking the field for his country, he said: “If you’re young and playing in the Championship, there’s always a chance you might get called up, but you can never guarantee that because there’s a massive pool of talented players to choose from.

“The way it works is the club gets an email to check that you’re fit for selection first, so you get a little bit of a hint, but that even happens with players who are going to be on standby. After that, it was just a matter of waking up on the day and waiting to see if my name was on the list. I just crossed my fingers that I’d get the chance and, when it came, it was a great feeling.”

Dad Alex Godfrey – a former York City Knights and Hull KR winger – was one of the first to be told the news by his son, who smiled: “Even though he’s a chilled person, he was buzzing and it was a nice moment for the whole family.”

His family and Ben’s girlfriend went on to watch his debut against Poland at the FA’s St George’s Park base, while Alex also flew out to Portugal to see the second game at Portuguese Championship-level outfit Penafiel.

On the two contests, Godfrey added: “Portugal had good players, who are at clubs like Benfica and Manchester United, but we did well against them. I was involved in the goal that they scored, but we had a number of chances and had the better opportunities.

“Poland were big, physical, quite direct and very well-organised and they turned up when we didn’t, which you can’t afford to do, because international players will punish you.”

Godfrey’s next international ambition is to win a place in England’s U21 squad for this summer’s Toulon Tournament, where Aidy Boothroyd’s men will be attempting to secure a fourth straight success.

“The standard is even more competitive at under-21 level and there are some unbelievable players at that age group, so it’s a hard team to break into now, but I’d love to show them what I’m capable of,” York’s one-time English Schools’ Under-13s FA National Cup-winning captain declared.

Like many of his contemporaries, Godfrey is also encouraged by the pathway through the age groups that progressive national coach Gareth Southgate now seems committed to embracing.

“A couple of our boys went away and trained with the first team while we were at St George’s Park,” the Canaries’ defender revealed. “A few years ago, that quick progression didn’t seem to be there, but Gareth Southgate has shown that, by playing people like Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi, he’s not afraid to chuck people in and he’ll give anybody a chance that deserve one.”

Godfrey’s full focus for the next five weeks, though, will be on securing automatic promotion to the Premier League with 2018/19 having also proven a breakthrough season for him at club level.

“At the start of the season, I was biding my time and was ready to grab my opportunity with both hands,” he pointed out. “I did that, and we’ve carried on getting results ever since.

“We’ve got eight games to go now and anything can happen, but we’re just concentrating on making a final push and getting over the line. If we make it, it’s obviously another dream for everybody as a footballer to play at the top level.”

Leeds, where Godfrey once had an unsuccessful trial, remain one of Norwich’s chief rivals for the title and automatic promotion, while play-off hopefuls Middlesbrough, where the York schoolboy spent two years from the age of 13 to 14, are this evening’s opponents for the Norfolk club.

To get his football career back on track, Godfrey rejoined the Minstermen at the age of 16 and, while confessing that it would give him a little personal gratification to finish ahead of both teams, he reasoned: “Nobody can tell what sort of player you’ll be at 15 or 16, but it is satisfying for me that these clubs have lost somebody that they are now fighting for promotion against.

“To be fair to them, though, they did tell me to go and prove them wrong and that stuck with me to be honest.”

A surprise switch this season from midfield to centre-back, meanwhile, has also seemingly served as a significant turning point in Godfrey’s career, as he has established himself as a regular Championship performer ahead of senior internationals.

“The boss – Daniel Farke – made the decision after seeing my attributes,” Godfrey says of the change in position. “He said to me that he thought I could play at a high level as a central midfielder but that I could go a bit further to the top if I was a centre back.

“I trusted his opinion and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’d played in the position a few times when I’d dropped back from midfield in pre-season games, but not for a long run of matches like I’ve done now.”

While flattered, Godfrey, who is contracted to Norwich until the summer of 2022, is refusing to let his head be turned by that supposed interest from the most-successful clubs in English footballing history.

“It’s nice when people are talking about you and you see your name linked with big clubs, but you can’t do anything about it,” he pointed out. “We are a young team who are doing well in the Championship, so that will always attract people to games, but I can’t think about that.

“I’m a Norwich City player and I’m 100 per cent focussed on achieving what we want to do here.”

While determined to avoid a trip to Wembley this term in the play-off final, Godfrey also has another entry on his football bucket list to tick off – a win at the world-famous venue after losing last season’s Checkatrade Trophy and League One play-off finals there during his loan stint with Shrewsbury last season.

“I think I built playing in the cup final up a bit too much and didn’t perform my best,” he explained. “For the second game – the play-off final which is an occasion that’s ten times’ bigger – I felt so much more relaxed.

“You kind of feel like tourists the first time you play there, but all that side of things is taken away if you get a second chance. Both were unbelievable experiences for me and my family and there’s no better place to play, but there’s also no worse place to lose, so I want to get back there and leave with a win.”

Godfrey is also hoping that the club that put him on the road to international recognition and potential Premier League stardom will soon begin their climb back up the football pyramid.

“The new manager (Steve Watson) seems to be changing a few things and, hopefully, he can get them back into the Football League where the club deserves to be,” Godfrey said. “The new stadium should also attract decent crowds and players.

“York are my home-town club and I’ll always want them to do well, because they played a massive part in my career, for which I’ll always be thankful for.”