It all started for me a few years ago, when I was playing in a standard Saturday league football back home.
I’d always played football growing up, Cerebral Palsy hadn’t stopped me, and I was playing for 61 FC in Luton at the time when the assistant manager of a team we were playing approached me after the game. He had CP himself and said he’d noticed how I had held my arm and asked if I had Cerebral Palsy too.
When I told him I had, he said I should get in contact with the FA and the England set-up. At the time, I didn’t even know we had an England CP team, so he got me on the right track and after a few emails, I was invited to a training camp and it started from there - I haven’t looked back since.
Now, things are so much better for players with CP. Even when you look at our squad compared to when I first got involved, year by year it’s improved and more and more people are following us.
There’s more teams being set up and that’s encouraging if we’re to build a bigger pool of players and improve more.
And it’s 100 per cent changed my life. Playing CP football has taken me to places like Brazil and Argentina, places that I never would’ve imagined going to and playing at an elite level which I never would’ve done, such as the current World Cup in Spain.
We’ve now played two games and won both, including last night’s match again Japan. The lads did really well, because Japan made it really tough for us as they sat back quite deep and we knew how important it was to get an early goal because that takes the pressure off so the fact we got it in the first two minutes was very good.
I managed to get myself a goal too and it’s always nice to score in a World Cup! I’m not known for my goals so whenever I do score, it’s always welcome.FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PARA FOOTBALL IN ENGLAND
We’re looking forward to the game with Brazil on Friday now as it’s all boiled down to this one to decide who wins the group. It’s a big game and everyone’s in high spirits going into it.
Nations like Brazil are just renowned with the World Cup, so to find ourselves preparing to play them here just feels iconic and we’re hoping to make a bit of history by beating them.
A few of us have played them previously, in the first game of the Paralympics in 2016 in Rio. I can remember it being a very tight game, we started slow and they got a goal head-start from that.
We really put the pressure on them in the last ten minutes and missed a couple of really good chances late on, so revenge this time would be quite nice.
We’ve looked at their team and they’re set up quite simply as a solid three in defence and solid three in attack. We think we’re pretty good at defending so we’re happy in that aspect, but it’ll also be hard to break them down.
Their style of play is what you might think, they like to shoot and they’re good at it. They move the ball quickly and do everything you expect a Brazilian team to do.
We know we’ve already confirmed a place in the quarter finals but our target this time is to go further than we did in Argentina two years ago, when we finished fourth.
We were unlucky out there, in the Iran game, as it just didn’t go our way even though we played really well. But we’re confident that we can go one further this time and that’s the target.