Squad meet former England star before departure to World Games.
It’s been a big week for the England Partially Sighted Squad, with the team meeting up with former Manchester United and England striker Danny Wallace before flying to the IBSA World Games in Turkey where they chalked up a 6-2 victory over France in the opening group game.
Kevin Gauden was the man of the moment, smashing home four goals, as England avenged last year’s European Championship defeat to France in style.
Gauden’s brother, Danny, also found the net for the Three Lions while Kevin Price added his name to the scoresheet in Antalya.
England’s Head Coach, Graham Keeley, was understandably delighted with the result: “I’m pleased with the performance as we knew that France would provide us with a very tough test.
“The players worked very hard and got the rewards they deserved but we now need to focus our attention on the next three group games to ensure qualification to the semi-finals.”
Before travelling to Turkey, the squad met up with Danny Wallace who passed on his best wishes at their training camp in Manchester.
Wallace, an Alex Ferguson signing in 1989, made his own international debut under Sir Bobby Robson in 1986 and added: “Playing for England is an unforgettable experience. I was picked to replace the injured John Barnes against Egypt and scored the winner.
“I wasn’t aware of football being played at this level until today and, believe me, some of these guys are very good.”
During his time at United, Wallace started to experience niggling symptoms of a disease that eventually brought a premature end to his career.
It was taking an increasingly long time for him to recover from injuries, of which were largely hamstring and calf strains, meaning he had to spend extended periods in the treatment room.
When he moved to Birmingham City in 1993, Wallace started getting pins and needles in his fingers and feet and after a short stint at Wycombe Wanderers, he was forced into retirement and was diagnosed with spinal MS in 1996.
Now he campaigns for access for disabled fans as an ambassador for Level Playing Field, and has set up the Danny Wallace Foundation, to aid the relief of sickness and the preservation of health among people suffering from MS.
England Partially Sighted squad member Steve Daley says that Wallace’s support is a massive morale boost for the team in Turkey: “I grew up with players like Danny and revered them. Me and the lads have been through a lot as people, as has Danny himself, so to have him here in person wishing us the best is an honour.
”Disability is something that affects everyone, if not directly, it will be through family and friends. Days like this show that our hard work is being recognised.
“If someone told me 15 years ago I’d be playing international football, I’d have laughed in their face. Now I’ve got a career I’m proud of.”