Para Football
Para Football
The FA

Dale's road to San Luis

A chance encounter ahead of a Man City game led Dale Smith to the England CP squad

Tuesday 12 Sep 2017

England Cerebral Palsy star Dale Smith has revealed a trip to watch his beloved Manchester City led to him starting out on his Three Lions journey.

Smith is part of the Three Lions squad currently in Argentina for the World Championships and scored two goals in Monday’s impressive 11-0 victory over Japan.

England v Venezuela
  • IFCPF CP World Championship
  • 2pm BST, Wednesday 13 September 2017
  • Stadium J. G Funes, San Luis, Argentina

And the lifelong City fan and season ticket holder admits it was a chance encounter before a game at the Etihad Stadium four years ago which put him on the road for this month’s trip to San Luis.

“I went to a Man City game and there was an activity outside the ground, which recorded how powerful your shot was,” he revealed.

“I just had a go at it and one of the lads there noticed I had a disability, he had Cerebral Palsy too and played for North West Regional, so he told me about it and asked me to come down to training.

“From there, I went to the England trials so it all happened pretty quickly and before you know it, I was in the squad.”

Prior to that Smith had grown up playing for local clubs such as Fletcher Moss, on the same turf where fellow England stars such as Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck first cut their teeth, being fully unaware of the football development programmes in place for people with CP.

“I played mainstream football all my life for my local teams, Fletcher Moss and Stretford Victoria, from the age of five onwards,” he explained.

“I didn’t know about the CP programme at all until I went along to the North West Regional training and found out about it.

“It’s been great for me, playing for England is a dream and I couldn’t have wrote it to be honest with everything that’s happened over the last three or four years.

The FA ;

Smith is enjoying his trip to South America too, with a couple of goals to his name and spirits in the England camp riding high after Monday’s victory.

The Three Lions tackle Venezuela in their second game on Wednesday afternoon, when another win should be good enough to seal progress to the weekend’s second round with the top three in each group qualifying for the knock-out stages.

“I’m enjoying myself out here, it’s an amazing place and I couldn’t ask any more from what we’ve experienced so far,” he said.

“I’m over the moon to have scored those goals against Japan, I didn’t expect it at all, but I’ve gone on the pitch and scored so I’m just really happy about it.

“It’s been mint, it’s the first time I’ve been away with England so I’m enjoying myself.

“We’ve had a good, solid start so we just want to build on that and take it into our next game now. We need to concentrate on tomorrow and then Friday against Holland.

“The spirit in the squad is different class, everyone’s got their hand on each other’s shoulders and we’re working together.

“We’ve got a really good feel about the tournament. I think we can win it, there’s no reason why we can’t win it.

“There’s a great attitude and we’ve definitely got the depth in the squad so let’s see what we can do.”

Interested in CP or disability football? Click here for more details on how to get involve or find your local club.

You can watch Wednesday’s game with Venezuela live online from 2pm by clicking here.

By Nicholas Veevers