By Andrew Riley
Wednesday, 18 May, 2011
Boss Paul Fairclough now wants his side to go one further and win ICT.
With an International Trophy Final and the chance to lift some silverware for his country, England C skipper Max Porter is seriously looking forward to donning the Three Lions again.
After leading the team through qualification that included wins over Estonia and Republic of Ireland and a semi-final victory over reigning champions Belgium, only Portugal stand in England’s way of the trophy tonight and Porter spoke of his joy at being involved.
“I’m delighted,” he admitted. “It’s not often you can say you’re going to play in an England International final, especially when you consider we are all under the age of 23 and play in the Conference, it’s something I never thought would happen and I am over the moon.”
The final whistle of the Semi-Final at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road in February sparked scenes of jubilation as the team celebrated their achievement in reaching the Final and it’s an evening that the former Rushden & Diamonds man still recalls fondly.
“Anyone who was there would have seen our elation,” he said. “We were delighted to get to the Final, no disrespect to the players within our squad and I include myself in that, but we played a Belgium side who are all better players, so for us to beat them and reach a Final for our country was amazing.”
The midfielder is fully aware of the factors that have helped make the team successful and thus paid tribute to the impact played by manager Paul Fairclough,
“The results speak for themselves under Paul,” explained Porter. “His style of management is very much suited to this role, in every squad I’ve been away with there have been new faces and people who haven’t played before, but by the end of it we have become a team.
“That is achieved through the various exercises we do, not just on the training pitch, we also do a lot of team motivational work and team building sessions in the evenings. It never ceases to amaze me that when we do meet up, we go from a group of lads who don’t know each other, to a group who go out and try really hard for each other and get results.”
Porter also spoke of his personal pride of captaining the side en route to the Final.
Filled with pride, he added: “To wear the armband for your country is amazing, you just can’t put it into words.
“If I could lift that Trophy I would be so proud, it would be a dream come true. As a youngster, all you really think about is playing at the top level and that is playing for your country. For us guys in the non-League, this is something we won’t get a chance to do again.”
However, England have to overcome Portugal first and Porter admits that it won’t be an easy game. The Portuguese beat Italy in their semi-final and will no doubt boast a technically proficient team, but it’s a challenge that all in the England camp are looking forward to.
“I’ve seen a squad list from their last game and it looked like most of their players were from top clubs like Porto, Benfica and Braga,” revealed Porter. “So obviously they’re going to be very good players, and whoever they send it’s going to be a very tough game. We have just got to hope we can perform well on the day and if we perform well the result will follow.”