Goalscoring hero Luke Ballinger pays tribute to Head Coach Graeme Dell after Monday's victory.
England 8-7 Greece
Monday 17 December 2007
Nechells Community Sports Centre, Birmingham
England Futsal ace Luke Ballinger was quick to dedicate Monday’s historic first victory to Head Coach Graeme Dell, after netting what proved to be two of the crucial goals in the 8-7 win.
The Mangotsfield United player scored just seconds into the second half to level the scores at 6-6, before netting his second to make it 7-6 in the crucial later stages of the game.
And Ballinger was delighted to have played his own part in the performance after being involved in the recent matches against Andorra and Georgia which have seen the Three Lions looking more and more likely to get the maiden win under their belt.
“It was great to get the win, but it was more about the team effort,” said the 20-year-old.
“Everyone played their part in the victory and it’s certainly been coming over the last few matches.
“That was only my eighth game today and in the time since I’ve been with the squad we have improved a great deal.
“I came in for the tournament in Turkey and have then played against Andorra and Georgia and we could have won in some of those games too, but it’s just great to get the win now and we need to build on this, starting against Greece again on Tuesday.”
Ballinger, who has netted seven goals in his last three games, also reserved special praise on behalf of the rest of the squad for Dell.
“Delly has been great,” he admitted.
“He’s taught me a hell of a lot since I’ve been involved and I’m sure the rest of the lads will tell you the same.
“We all know what he expects of us and he’s as desperate for success as we are, so we’re all pleased for him and in many senses, this win is for him and Delly has got to take a lot of praise for it.”
Now that the first win for England has been secured, Ballinger is hoping that the Three Lions can go and build upon their success with further victories.
However, the one frustrating aspect for the players and Dell is that it isn’t always easy to get a consistency throughout the squad given the players’ various work and team commitments.
“All of the lads play football, so that is one thing that doesn’t particularly help, as we have to revert to Futsal when we meet up,” he added.
“Also, the squad is often changing, which is no fault of Delly’s and doesn’t help him, but we played Andorra in October and then went to Georgia in November with an almost entirely different group of players.
“So when you meet up, it’s back to basics again in training to prepare for the games.
“We have a good body of players though and we all work hard and get on with things when we get together and we now have to take the positives from this win into the Kuala Lumpur tournament and the qualifiers in Hungary next year.”
England are in action against Greece again at the Nechells Community Sports Centre on Tuesday night. Kick-off is 7pm.