EXCLUSIVE Matt Crossen’s life changed when he suffered a stroke in 2013 – now, almost a decade later, he’s trying to lead England’s cerebral palsy team to World Cup success in Spain
Harry Kane is not the only England captain with dreams of the 2022 World Cup.
The three lions ‘ Talisman hopes to end 56 years of injury when he heads Gareth Southgate’s side in Qatar.
But before that, Matt Crossen will helm the England cerebral palsy team as they aim for World Cup success in Spain. The tournament takes place in Barcelonabegins this Wednesday (April 27) and ends on May 16. It’s the pinnacle for the players involved in this seven-a-side concept, and Crossen and his colleagues are hoping to improve on the side’s fourth-place finish at the last event in 2019.
Crossen’s journey to leading his country in a major tournament began with a seemingly harmless nose injury while playing non-league Marske United, 23 years old. Just a few weeks later, he suffered a life-changing stroke at work.
Despite a long road to recovery and some tough times along the way, he is philosophical about the street life that brought him down.
Speak with mirror football fresh from a training session at the national center St. George’s Park , He says: “Believe it or not, at the time I was working for a gym, I had just given a lecture on how going to the gym protects you from heart attacks, strokes and highs blood pressure Etc.
“Then I just sat down and all of a sudden my arm was right over my chest but it felt like it was up in the air. That was obviously the first sign (of a stroke). I couldn’t walk, couldn’t speak, had to learn everything you learned as a child.
“But I think everything happens for a reason. And I think if it was something that was going to happen to me, then I was like, ‘Well, let’s get that out of the way.’ The doctor came in and said it’s been difficult to play football again. But I was determined to come back, to walk first, then run and finally play football.”
Before his stroke, Crossen was progressing in the Northern League, making his debut at 16 and making incremental progress until the life-changing incident seven years later.
After recovering, he quickly returned to football and suddenly caught the CP team’s attention before impressing Jeff Davis, the FA’s disability football development manager. Captainship would soon follow and he is now putting the finishing touches as he prepares for a second world championship as skipper – just like Spurs forward Kane.
The two men met at St George’s Park over a year ago for an event marking International Day of People with Disabilities.
Crossen says Kane’s modesty was immediately apparent. “He’s really down to earth,” he said of Kane. “He asked about my football and how my family was doing and stuff. I was expecting a daughter at the time, so he asked about it too. He’s just such a nice guy.”
England’s first group game will be against Canada on May 3 before taking on Venezuela on May 5 and the Netherlands on May 7, with all games being played at a facility in Salou. England finished fourth at the World Cup for the second consecutive year in 2019 – something Crossen is keen to improve this time around.
The 31-year-old added: “Obviously it’s every boy’s dream to perform at a World Cup and to do it as captain of your side is incredible.
“Last time we reached the semi-finals and finished fourth. We lost to Brazil in the third-place match, but I thought we did a good job. But we’ll certainly try to do at least one more thing this time. ” “
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/matt-crossen-england-cerebral-palsy-26785106 Harry Kane isn't the only England captain looking to fight for World Cup glory this year