TWO OF England's former stars passed on their expert tips to a pub football team from Wrexham after they netted a dream trip to the FA's national training centre at Lille-shall.
Football-mad Kevin Edwards couldn't believe his luck when his pub team was chosen to spend a day at Lilleshall - the training ground for Sven Goran Eriksson's England - particularly since the side, at that time, didn't even exist.
Dedicated Wrexham fan Kevin and his boss Chris Trevor, who both work at the Alyn Hotel in Rossett, entered a national pub competition and were shocked to discover their fantasy football team was one of only four teams in the UK to have won.
'We only entered for a laugh,' said Kevin. 'So when we realised we had to get a team together, Chris and I made a frantic search around the hotel to see who we could get to play!'
Kevin's team Athletico Alyn Rossett travelled down to London and spent a day training with ex-England stars Chris Waddle and John Barnes, before facing off against another pub winner in a four-team tournament.
'It was an absolutely wicked weekend! That's the only way I can describe it,' said Kevin. 'Lilleshall is a fantastic place.
'We all travelled down on the Friday by train wearing the same tshirts with our names printed on the back. People kept looking at us as if we were famous but we just laughed it off.
'On the Saturday, ourselves and another team went to train with John Barnes. We went for a run and then did some dribbling and skills - or in our case, lack of! Barnes was a great character but a very down-toearth-guy and very helpful.
'After our session with John, we swapped and went training with Chris Waddle. Again, he was a real gent and so down-to-earth.
'We practiced our passing and our wingers concentrated on their crosses. Then Waddle would lay the ball off for the forwards for us to strike at goal. Our keeper Matty was in goal and I sent one flying into his top corner!'
The team then had a short warmup before facing up to the daunting prospect of tackling a pub team from Reading that play in Division One of a Sunday league.
But despite being made up of chefs, waiters, barmen and even dishwashers and with only a handful of training sessions under their belt, Athletico Alyn Rossett did manager Kevin proud, going down by just 2-0.
'We played out of our skins in the blistering heat,' Kevin added. 'It was almost unbearable at times.
'In the first-half, we had them rattled and came close to scoring a couple of times. We surprised them and ourselves.
'Unfortunately, we couldn't hold out in the second half. They were too strong and scored twice. Still, it wasn't bad for a first game!'
After the match, the team celebrated in true champion style by downing champagne.
Kevin added: 'It was a long day, but a once-in-a-lifetime chance. We got our shirts signed by Chris and John, which topped off an absolutely super day. I want to say thanks to all the lads - Matty, Chris, Gaz, Gav, Trev, Ed, Beanie, Paul, Nathan, Tom and Little Kev who came in at the last minute - they were all brilliant.'