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Dover Athletic striker Stefan Payne gets surprise call telling him about his England C call-up to play against Cyprus under-21s


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Dover Athletic striker Stefan Payne says he was puzzled when Whites assistant coach Jake Leberl called to offer his congratulations.

Payne admits he had no idea what Leberl was talking about.

He didn’t know he had been named in the 16-man England C squad to play Cyprus under-21s in an international friendly in Larnaca on February 17 until Leberl broke the news.

Payne said: “I just said to Jake what are you congratulating me for?

“Then he told me I’d been selected and I was stunned. I honestly had no idea so it came as a huge surprise and a real pleasant one at that.

“I’ve never played for England at any level so it’s a great achievement to get into this squad.

“I am really excited and am so looking forward to making the most of the opportunity.”

Stefan Payne was on target for Dover against Woking
Stefan Payne was on target for Dover against Woking

Payne, Dover’s leading scorer in Vanarama Conference with 11 goals, admitted after Leberl had called he went to make sure his passport was valid.

“I just had to check and it was,” said the former Gillingham man who joined Whites from Ryman League, Premier Division side AFC Hornchurch last summer.

Payne’s team-mate and fellow forward, Tom Murphy, was also named in the 14-man contingency squad for the game.

Payne said he would love to see Murphy make the trip too.

He said: “Murph has been terrific this season. He deserves his call-up.

“I guess if someone gets injured Murph might be in the running - I’d hate to see someone do that (get injured) but it would be great if that meant Murph would come in.

“Playing with Murph for England would be something special.”

The last Dover player to represent England C was goalkeeper Mitch Walker last May.

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