England legend Jade Clarke given MBE before Manchester netball homecoming

Video report by Granada Reports sports journalist Chris Hall

England's most capped Netball player Jade Clarke says she burst into tears when she found out she had been given an MBE in the New Year's Honours list.

Jade, from Partington, said she was about to meet her team mate Chelsea Pitman and received an email with the news.

"I opened the email, then she saw me cry and thought something was really wrong. It was such a shock," laughs Jade.

Until then, Commonwealth Gold was the Partingtonian's prized possession, alongside five other Commonwealth and World Cup bronzes.

Jade won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth games Credit: PA Images

Jade said: "I think my sister nominated me about three years ago.

"She's always been a huge supporter of mine and been there every step of the way. So that was really nice.

"My mum is just so proud and it's a really nice moment for me and the family."

Her Roses teammates have also immediately altered their training routine to show deference to a netballer with the royal seal of approval.

"Yeah, we start training with a curtsy now," explains England Head Coach Jess Thirlby while her players cheekily incorporate the tongue-in-cheek show of respect into their stretches, much to the embarrassment of the humble Jade.

"We're lucky we've got a few girls who've been recognised in previous years. But for Jade, I don't know why it's taken so long.

"I think we would have given it to her a long time ago. It's a reward, not simply for her longevity and her quality on court, but also for the person that she is.

"She's one of the most humble athletes I've ever worked with and the biggest team player."

Jade has made 169 caps for England Credit: PA Images

That's something Manchester Thunder star Natalie Metcalf agreed with.

"Oh, she's honestly incredible. I've got a great memory of first coming in to England and Jade was the first person that met me, said hello and welcomed me in," Natalie recalls with great pride in her teammate.

"She's so humble, so grounded. We're so proud of her. And she really drives the standards within the program.

"Sets the standard for us all. It's an honour to play alongside her."

She'll get that chance many more times this year, with England facing Jamaica in a three-match series, starting in front of 7,000 fans in Manchester on 11 January.

The 2018 gold medal winning England team Credit: PA Images

They'll then head to a Quad Series in South Africa, where they'll also battle for the World Cup this July.

"I've been playing since I was nine years old and I just love playing for England," says Jade.

"I love putting on that red dress and I always think it's a huge opportunity. It just gives me tingles and I never want it to stop. So I'm just going to keep playing until they kick me out."

Jade made her England debut in 2003 and has been capped a record 169 times.

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