Living the life of an England footballer
Running out onto the hallowed turf of Wembley after enjoying five-star training facilities may be just a dream to many of us.
But not for one football fan from Leamington.
Paul Ward won the chance of a lifetime to experience what life is really like as an England footballer.
Paul, from Good Fellow Street, won the opportunity to train at the new England team headquarters at St George’s Park and run out at Wembley as part of an England fan competition organised by the England Team sponsor Vauxhall.
The 30 winners all met at the National Football Centre in Burton for the first time for a two-day experience and were treated to a day in the life of an England player ahead of a big game, including a coaching session from current England coach and former right back Gary Neville.
After an intense training session the winners had time to recover in the state of the art facilities at St George’s Park, sampling the hydrotherapy pool as well as staying at the England team hotel.
The next day, they travelled to Wembley in the England team bus to play ina game. They were captained by former Premier League stars Graeme Le Saux and Steve Claridge, and managed by England legends Stuart Pearce and Ray Wilkins in a game refereed by World Cup final referee Howard Webb.
Paul said; “The last two days have been a dream come true and an unbelievable experience. To be coached by Gary Neville and then managed by Stuart Pearce and Ray Wilkins – all England heroes was a real surprise. And running out at Wembley is something I will never forget.”
England Under 21 manager, Stuart Pearce, commented; “The players have been fantastic and this initiative by Vauxhall to offer England fans the chance to experience life as an England player is truly unique.
“You can’t describe the feeling you have when you run out of the tunnel at Wembley and I am sure they will all remember this day for the rest of their lives.”
The players, who were from across the UK, had taken part in a national competition run by Vauxhall across a number of platforms including their dedicated football website.
Vauxhall Head of Sponsorship, Chris Hornbuckle, commented; “This is the third year of our Big Pitch competition and 2013 has been the best yet.
“To fulfil the childhood dreams of England fans is something we are very proud of and we are planning more competitions and activities to bring the fans closer to the England team.”
For more information go to www.vauxhallfootball.co.uk
Follow Vauxhall on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VauxhallEngland