England football ace from Harpenden handed Lifetime Achievement Award

David Clarke with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by The FA via Getty Images

David Clarke with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by The FA via Getty Images - Credit: The FA via Getty Images

HARPENDEN’S David Clarke was handed the Lifetime Achievement Award at the FA England Awards 2013 after being hailed by FA chairman David Bernstein and ex-England captain David Beckham.

Clarke, the former England Blind football skipper, joined the great and the good of the nation’s game at a star-studded ceremony at St George’s Park on Sunday.

Clarke scored 128 goals in 144 international appearances playing for England in five World Cups and six European Championships. He also captained GB at last year’s Paralympic Games after which he retired from the sport.

During his career Clarke witnessed sporting doors open for those with disabilities.

He said: “It’s interesting because I was born into this world not having the opportunity to represent my country at the highest level and not able to do being able to do all the things I’ve been able to do.

“Gradually throughout my lifetime those opportunities have changed and society has changed. We’re now at a point [with me] at 42 years-old where we have a full-time blind football squad and it’s been an interesting road.”

Clarke was honoured for his achievements by receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award as voted for by Bernstein.

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“In a year when we are marking The FA’s 150th anniversary, it is marvellous that we can celebrate the achievement of England and Team GB blind football star David Clarke,” said Bernstein.

And Clarke received a glowing tribute from new Paris Saint-Germain signing Beckham, who had previously trained with the blind team.

“I just want to say congratulations,” said Beckham.

“It was a real honour and a pleasure to see what you and the guys get up to and achieve. It is a true honour to meet and work with you.

“Congratulations again on the lifetime achievement award, it is really well deserved.”

Given his goalscoring stats, Clarke has been described as England’s greatest goalscorer.

The three-time European Championship Golden Boot winner was chosen as a stadium torch bearer at last summer’s Paralympics and is an ambassador for the sport.

As a coach of Harpenden Colts’ U7s he will still be heavily involved in the game.