WITH FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup winners medals to his name, as well as playing for and managing his country, Mike England would have every excuse for forgetting any humble beginnings.

When quizzed about his glittering 28-year football career though, England immediately reflects on his early years at Blackburn Rovers when an FA youth cup win in 1959 gave him his first taste of success – an experience that he insists made him hungry for more.

England’s footballing adventure was far from dull, from his early days at Ewood, to his nine-year spell at Spurs, to a devastating exit from the game, but it was that historic triumph against West Ham’s kids with the likes of Fred Pickering and Keith Newton that remains a highlight.

Rovers’ current youth team are on the verge of reaching only the club’s fourth FA youth cup final, with a semi final first leg against Chelsea at Ewood Park on Wednesday, with the class of 1959 the only Rovers side to have won it.

“We were just young players and we played against all the big clubs,” he said. “We beat Manchester United and beat West Ham in the final, they had Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Bobby Moore playing for them. We were watched by 36,000 at Manchester United in the semi final “There was a hell of a crowd at Blackburn Rovers for the final as well. We had never seen crowds like it. It really was an incredible experience and I still remember it now, even after everything else I experienced in football.

“We then won the European youth cup after that when we beat Nantes. It attracted such huge publicity for Blackburn and showed it isn’t only the big teams who can win things.”

“That gave us our start. We all had something to prove and it was very exciting being part of Jackie Campbell’s squad. There was a memorial service held in his honour and all the players from that youth team turned up. He was an inspirational man.”

England arrived at Blackburn from his Holywell home in the late 1950s as a 15-year-old and went on to make almost 200 appearances in a nine-year love affair between 1957 and 1966.

Despite making his senior debut aged 17, he struggled to oust Matt Woods from the centre half position until his emigration to Australia in 1962/63, when he was finally able to make the number five shirt his own.

He said: “Blackburn gave me my chance. I made a lot of friends in Blackburn. I went there as a 15-year-old and it was just a big place with a lot of chimneys to me. Now the chimneys have gone but the thing that remains is the friendliness of the town.

“The youth cup really does remain a highlight, while I played in some exciting first team matches. I remember when we beat Tottenham 7-2 and I scored a goal.

“Blackburn then had a polio epidemic, which meant all our games were cancelled. We were playing catch-up and because of that became embroiled in a relegation scrap. We were about 10 games behind other teams at one stage and we got relegated.

“The club then started selling their best players and I decided it was the right time to move to Tottenham.”

Already captain of Wales, It was his £95,000 move to Spurs that summer that really lifted England to the top of the game.

He made 300 league appearances for Spurs, winning the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup, before ending his playing career in the States with Seattle and then Cleveland.

“The Tottenham manager Bill Nicholson was brilliant,” he said. “He liked us to play football and, as a midfielder in my younger days, I enjoyed getting it down and playing when I could. Now I’m retired I realise how fortunate I was.

“I was sat at home watching the FA Cup final with my wife and I turned to her and said ‘I have played in one of those’. It is amazing now you look back on it.

“You take a lot for granted when you are a player, you just accept what is happening as a part of your life. It is only once I retired and met lots of different people you realise what you have achieved. I remember talking to a couple of golfers and they wanted to ask me questions about playing in the FA Cup final.”

After his playing days, England was appointed manager of Wales where he stayed for eight years and took his nation to the brink of both World Cup and European Championship qualification before being sacked in the late 1980s.

England though admits the failure to qualify for Mexico 1986 paled into insignificance after the death of Scotland manager Jock Stein in a crucial match against his Welsh side – a moment that changed his life forever.

He said: “My first game saw us beating England 4-1 – not a bad start. I was able to see the development of the likes of Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Kevin Ratcliffe.

“We were playing Scotland in a game where we were both looking to qualify for the World Cup in Mexico. Something dreadful happened though in that game and it hit me really, really hard.

“Jock Stein, then Scotland manager, was sitting alongside me when he suddenly collapsed in front of me. He was taken into the dressing room where he died and it hit me enormously. It really did affect me for a long time afterwards.

“I was sacked after that. I couldn’t help feeling how could they sack me after all that? I was then offered four other jobs in football but I decided against it, I realised there was more to life.”

Rovers travel to Tottenham tomorrow with England keeping an eye of both of his former club’s fortunes. But, at White Hart Lane, it will be Spurs he is hoping to cheer on to victory.

He said: “I think Tottenham will win and I hope they get that Champions League place because I am good friends with Harry Redknapp. We played together at Seattle.

“I am a Liverpool fan actually, have been since the age of seven, but they are playing terribly at the moment and don’t have any chance of that fourth place, so I hope Tottenham get it.

“Blackburn will be fine. They have got a very good man in Sam Allardyce.

"He is the type of manager who manages very well with what he has got and I know he has a lot of respect in football.”