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The Swanley England star who is unlucky not to be playing in the Euros final

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Original article from Kent Live

For England's squad of 26 players, Sunday night is set to be the biggest moment of their careers so far.

The national side faces Italy in the Euro 2020 final and Gareth Southgate's men have the chance to bring home the country's first major footballing trophy since that infamous day in 1966.

It's likely to come down to the big-name players once again with English hopes pinned on the talismanic Harry Kane, the wily Raheem Sterling and fleet-footed Jack Grealish.

Read more: Hundreds in Kent sign petition for Bank Holiday if England win Euros

However, the journey to the final wouldn't have been possible without a whole range of players and staff.

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Southgate's final squad of 26 was trimmed down from an initial selection of 33, and those 33 were chosen from an endless list of English talent playing across the globe.

Since 2018, 37 players have pulled on the Three Lions strip and represented their country.

Only 11 of those talents will start against the Italians on Sunday, but all have played a part in the recent overhaul of national football.

Loftus-Cheek now plays for Chelsea

And one of those 37 players is local Kent talent Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Ruben will be watching the Euros final from the comfort of his home, but in a not so distant world, he could well have been starting the match.

Swanley's swaggering midfielder

Ruben was born in Lewisham, South London but soon moved to Swanley in Kent.

He went to school and grew up in the area, enjoying the use of a local park just 30 seconds from his front door.

He told Chelsea FC's site: "I don’t remember it but my dad said I used to go to the park and just kick a ball around.

A young Ruben playing for England's youth team

"My earliest memories are of just playing Sunday league football, really young, about six. We used to train Saturdays and play Sundays, and I used to love weekends."

From 11-16 the footballer attended Orchards Academy in Swanley and started to find his feet as a sportsman.

The Sun visited the school in 2018 and met Ruben's former PE teacher Stuart Nicholson.

Stuart said: "As a young man, he was impressive. But on the football pitch, he was incredible.

Last season he played for Fulham

"Ruben was a wonderful footballer from the first time I saw him, he had natural ability.

"He played for a local team in Swanley and was scouted very early and everyone could see in those days he had exceptional talent from day one."

Stuart went on to recall one match Ruben played in where the side stunned a team from Bromley and left the opposition's coach so impressed he came over to share his disbelief.

Ruben was soon playing for the England under-15s and began his ascension to the top.

Even today the player is proud of his Kent heritage and makes frequent visits to his old school to meet pupils and hand out trophies o sports days.

Ruben's footballing career

Ruben used to be an England regular

After impressing at schoolboy level, Ruben was soon a part of the Chelsea Youth Academy.

He worked his way up through the system and eventually made his first-team debut in December 2014 as a sub in a Champions League match against Sporting Lisbon.

A loan spell to Crystal Palace came during the 2017-18 season to gain more experience after being used as a squad rotation period for a few years at Chelsea.

Ruben has been on Chelsea's books for years

Ruben eventually made his biggest impact for Chelsea during the 2018-19 season when he made 24 appearances, scoring six goals.

Most recently, the midfielder spent a year at loan at Fulham during their relegation season.

Ruben could have been playing this Sunday

On the international stage, Ruben made his England debut in 2017 against Germany.

He was then included in Southgate's 2018 World Cup squad and made eight appearances for the Three Lions that year.

A lack of playing time in 2019-20 at Chelsea meant he dropped off the England boss' radar and, despite a solid season at Fulham, left himself too much work to do to make the cut this summer.

Original Article