Horsham Hawks’ Joshua Lea-Clayton collected his first piece of European silverware with the National Team Select Suns in Europe’s largest youth tournament in Gothenburg.
The Tanbridge House student was one of 40 players from across the whole country following last year’s national finals in Sheffield to be invited to try out for the Suns.
Following two months of trials, Lea-Clayton was one of 12 players from nine counties selected for the final squad and attended regular training sessions over a further seven months in the run up to the tournament which featured 433 teams.
The tournament took place over four days with the Suns playing up an age group in the under-13 event consisting of 29 teams from across Europe.
The Suns won their three group games and were seeded going into the quarter-finals where they got off to a strong start in the knock-out stages of the tournament with a massive 46-14 to reach the semi-final.
The Sun’s semi-final opponent came in the shape of Valur Reykjavik, of Iceland, and was a hard-fought contest in which the national team were victorious 37-31 setting up an intriguing final against a very well supported Swedish side and the only other unbeaten team in the tournament.
In the final, the Onsala Pirates BBK exploded to a 9-1 lead midway through the first half, although level scores at half-time set up an exciting second half.
After the break the Suns turned the game on its head with a mature, energised and competent performance to secure victory 29-14 and become the first English team to be crowned champions in 36 years.
Lea-Clayton said: “Winning the whole tournament was an amazing experience and it has been a lot of fun getting to know my team mates on tour. Playing for the Suns has challenged me and I feel I have learned loads as well as making some good friends along the way.”