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England C star Joe Sbarra was so shocked to have been selected for his country that he checked Twitter to confirm it was genuine, writes Ben Hart.
The 23-year-old midfielder enjoyed a fine season with Solihull Moors and was chosen as the Sportsbeat Young Player of the Year at the Non-League Paper's National Game Awards in association with Buildbase.
Sbarra weighed in with 18 goals and seven assists for the National League play-off finalists and believes his side can come back stronger next season.
“My friend text me saying congrats,” said Sbarra, reflecting on his first non-league international call-up.
“I was just lying in bed daydreaming and then the text came through and I said, ‘what are you on about?'”
“He told me I had an England C cap and I was buzzing. I then only found out on Twitter, but it was a great moment for me and my family.”
“I’ve never done anything like that before, going into that environment, meeting new people, and going out of my comfort zone. But it’s something that I’ll look back on with great pride.”
One of non-League’s finest young prospects, the former Burton Albion man is settling into life at Damson Park after completing his second full season at the club following a loan in 2018/19.
The Moors narrowly missed out on promotion to League Two, losing 2-1 to Grimsby in the play-off final, but Sbarra believes his side deserve an opportunity to play in the Football League
He said: “It is a Football League club; the training ground is unbelievable and everyone there deserves to be in the Football League and it’s just a shame we didn’t do it.
“It’s a great club to be at, from the manager and the chairman to the fans. It’s just a shame as one of the main things we wanted to do was to get promoted.
“You have to use the disappointment as motivation, especially as a team, we have to learn from the hurt and use it to make sure we go on and do better this season.”
For the first time ever, the National League play-off final was played at West Ham’s London Stadium, and despite the result Sbarra was grateful for the opportunity to play at such an iconic sporting venue.
“It was good before the result,” he joked.
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