ENGLAND’S European Championship hopes may be no more, but a footballer from Little Sutton has been picked to wear the Three Lions on the world stage.
Paul Maddison, 26, flew out to Malaysia with the England futsal team this week to compete in the World 5s futsal tournament in Kuala Lumpur.
Futsal is a Latin form of five-a-side football, which was the staple of players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho when they were growing up.
Unlike the traditional five-a-side game, there is no head height rule and it is played with a smaller, heavier leather ball with reduced bounce to encourage skills and passing.
Paul said: “I got into it at university in Sheffield. A friend of mine, Mike Corran, played the game with Tranmere Victoria on the Wirral. He played for England and travelled all over Europe with Vics, going to tournaments and such, and when he got me to try futsal I really enjoyed it.”
Paul, who hails from Little Sutton but now lives in Chester, has been playing futsal since 2004 and now makes it his number one priority, ahead of the traditional form of the game.
“I am signed up for Bebington Athletic in the West Cheshire League,” he said. “But I am only really available for the first part of the season and then the end of the season.
“In the middle, when the futsal season kicks in, I focus on it.”
That focus sees the forward train with Tranmere Vics, play friendlies once a month and take part in national and international tournaments.
“I was spotted by England boss Graeme Dell in one of the national tournaments,” said Paul, who works as a structural engineer with independent consultant Gifford in Chester.
“He liked me and selected me.”
England, ranked 119th in the world at futsal, open the World 5s against Argentina, who are seventh.
And despite the fact that England are mere minnows in the futsal world rankings, Paul, who currently has three caps to his name, is looking forward to taking on the best players in the world.
“It will be a challenge,” he said. “But this is a prestigious tournament and we will go out there and do our best.”