ENDORSEMENTS from Ofsted are all very well for a school, but for real street cred only praise from an England football star will suffice…

ENDORSEMENTS from Ofsted are all very well for a school, but for real street cred only praise from an England football star will suffice.

Darren Bent, the England football striker and former Hinchingbrooke School student, returned to his roots last Friday to make an inspiring appearance at his old school.

The 27-year-old, who plays for Premiership side Aston Villa, has returned several times to the Huntingdon school and on this occasion took part in a question-and-answer session with pupils and even had a kick about with Year 9 youngsters in their PE lesson.

Under the spotlight of Hinchingbrooke’s Performing Arts Centre, Darren was asked questions ranging from “would you like to be involved when the Olympic torch travels through Huntingdon?” to “how did Hinchingbrooke help your football?”

He was also asked which school house he had been in – and was cheered when he revealed he was a member of Veazy.

He told the pupils: “I would love to be a part of the Olympic torch relay.” And he added: “The sports facilities were so good at Hinchingbrooke. I could come and train before school, at lunchtimes and after school. It gave me the opportunity to get better – and it kept me out of trouble.”

Darren also told students about the football stars who inspired him – Ian Wright and Thierry Henry – during his younger days when Arsenal was his team of choice. He said he was grateful that he had never had a major injury and told the pupils to believe in themselves and added: “If you have discipline, you are half way there.”

When asked for his memories of the school, he joked: “Well, apart from the scary teachers, I remember the sport, really. Sports, definitely.”

He was asked if he was a good student and replied: “I hung around with the right people and I still see some of them today. I did everything right and gave myself the right opportunities.

“One thing was instilled in me when I was young: if you have a goal, you need dedication. I always wanted to be a footballer and mum and dad always said to me ‘You have got to be dedicated – but don’t let your grades slip.’ As much as I loved football, I made sure I studied hard too.”

He told The Hunts Post: “I always like to come back here. It’s where I started. This school gave me the opportunity to become a better sportsman. I loved school. Hinchingbrooke was always the best, it had the best teachers and the best facilities and it steered me on to the right road.

“I try to come back as often as I can. It’s nice to see the kids and show them that your dreams can come true.”

Head of PE Jason Turnbull was thrilled to see his former protégé again.

He said: “Darren was dynamic and enthusiastic, dedicated and hard-working. While his friends were out enjoying their teenage years, Darren knew exactly what he wanted to do and gave up his free time to follow his dream. I’m very excited to see him back and it’s nice for the students to see him back too. We couldn’t have asked for a better role model.”