Norwich City signed York City's 18 year old midfielder Ben Godfrey on 15th January 2016 on a three-and-a-half year contract for an undisclosed fee.
The 18-year-old made 15 appearances for the Minstermen, scoring one goal.
Godfrey was part of the youth system at Middlesbrough when he was younger, before starting a scholarship with York in 2014 and going on to captain the club’s under-18s.
The midfielder, who can also play at centre-back, turned down two chances to sign professional terms with the Minstermen and his youth contract was due to expire at the end of the 2015/16 season.
York manager Jackie McNamara, confirming the news on York’s official website, said: “While we wanted to keep Ben long-term and offered him a two-year contract that proved difficult once there was interest and Norwich came in for him. Ben’s mind was made up however and I, like everyone at the club, wish him all the best in the next step of his career.”
West Brom, Hull, Cardiff, Derby and Barnsley have all previously been linked with making a move for the teenager
Ben made his Norwich debut as a substitute in the 6-1 win over Coventry in the Football League Cup on 23rd August 2016, also scoring City's final goal. He finished the 2016/17 season with 6 games and 1 goal to his record.
On 24th August 2017, Ben joined Shrewsbury on loan. Impressive form for the Shrews saw him linked with Premier League side Southampton, Swansea and West Brom in mid-December 2017. Similar rumours resurfaced on 16th June 2018 with Swansea, West Brom and Crystal Palace linked with him following an impressive season for Shrewsbury in which he made 35 appearances, helping them to the League One play-off finals and the Checkatrade final.
Godfrey scored his first league goal for Norwich in the 4-3 home defeat to Derby County on 29th December 2018.
His form for Norwich earned him a call-up to the England Under-20 squad and he made his debut against Poland on 21st March 2019. He then played for them against Portugal. He was also linked with a £10million move to Manchester United. He was then linked with a £10million move to French giants Paris St Germain.
Ben finished the 2018/19 season with 36 appearances and four goals as Norwich won the Championship title and promotion to the Premier League.
At the end of August 2019, Ben was called up by England's Under-21s for their clashes with Turkey and Kosovo in September 2019. He came on as an 80th minute substitute, replacing Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White, to make his England Under-21 debut in a game England won 3-2.
On 14th February 2020, the Daily Express reported that Tottenham were keen on signing Godfrey who would have a £50m asking price and that Arsenal were also preparing a similar bid.
Despite Norwich's relegation, Godfrey was reportedly in demand with German media suggesting on 7th July 2020 that Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig are among those keen to sign the England U21 international. On 10th July Italian website Calciomercato.it recently reported that AC Milan and Roma have made enquiries through an intermediary for Godfrey, speaking in particular to Jamie Moralee – the CEO of New Era Global Sports – and Rashid Uddin, the Head of Overseas Markets of New Era Global Sports. They add that Norwich value the 22-year-old at around €50million. MilanNews add that among Milan’s summer goals is also a new central defender to be partnered with Alessio Romagnoli, with Godfrey joined by Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer, Saint-Etienne’s Wesley Fofana and Fiorentina’s Nikola Milenkovic on the wish list. Godfrey had made 33 appearances for Norwich in 2019/20.
Godfrey scored his first international goal on 8th September 2020 when he scored the winner as England's Under-21s beat Austria 2-1 in Austria. Teammates Oliver Skipp, Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons all played in the game and also in the 6-0 defeat of Kosovo on 4th September 2020.
At the end of September 2020 it was reported that Fulham had enquired about Godfrey's availability but he wasn’t the subject of any firm offer however, and it is understood Godfrey wouldn’t consider a move to Craven Cottage as being the next stage of his career. Fulham have reportedly now moved onto former Canaries defender Ryan Bennett as they look to bolster their defensive options following a poor start to life in the Premier League. On 30th September 2020 the Daily Telegraph claimed that Godfrey was the target for Everton who had made an initial enquiry followed by a loan enquiry with an option to make the deal permanent at a later date. The Telegraph then claimed an offer of £20m plus an additional £6m in add-on fees had been made. Newcastle United were also reported to be making enquiries. Everton increased their bid which was accepted by the Canaries. Following medicals and negotiations over personal terms, Godfrey finally transferred to Everton on 5th October 2020. This was for an undisclosed fee worth £25m to Norwich and making Godfrey the most expensive sale in the club's history. Former club York City are entitled to 10% from a sell-on clause included in the original deal that brough Godfrey to Norwich in 2016.
Godfrey said "It is an honour to sign for Everton and to be part of a huge club. I am very thankful for the opportunity and I can’t wait to get started. The aim for me at Everton is to win trophies and win games. I like to win. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I care and I am a passionate lad. I have played at Goodison a few times for my previous club. It is an intimidating place to come when you are an away team.”
Daniel Farke said “I am pretty sure he will play for best clubs in the world one day and he has the potential to captain England. That is what I wish for him. He is one of the best centre backs in the world in terms of potential. I was happy to be able to work with him. I would have liked to work further on with him." Godfrey made his Everton debut as an early substitute for Seamus Coleman on 17th October 2020 in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool which retained Everton's position at the top of the Premier League table.