Captain of England's cerebral palsy football team aiming for 'something special' at Euros

Crossen represented Team GB at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Credit: PA

The captain of England's cerebral palsy (CP) football team says he wants to emulate the Lionesses and bring home the trophy from this year's Euros.

Matt Crossen, from Stockton-on-Tees, will lead out his national side at the IFCPF Men's European Championships in Sardinia, Italy.

Since turning to CP football in 2015, he has earned more than 50 international caps and represented Great Britain at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

"To do that is special," he said.

"My grandad got me into my football as well so it's all for him and my family, my two daughters and my fiance. I'm always backed and hopefully I can add a few more caps this tournament.

"There's only a special per cent that get to play for England and it's even less to captain it. It's a massive honour for me, for my family and it's something that won't just be taken off me lightly. I just want to leave it in a good place and do something special this tournament.

"To captain your country, I can't explain it. It's something that you'll never, ever be able to explain."

Whilst playing for Marske United at the age of 23, Crossen was injured and later suffered a stroke, resulting in him being paralysed down his left side.

"I had to learn to read, write, walk and talk, everything again," he continued. "It was obviously a whirlwind of things, I didn't know what I was going to do, what was happening through it all. It was a weird, weird situation and scenario to be in," Crossen said.

"Through what's happened, it's a dream come true and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me football-wise."

Now, Crossen and his team-mates have their eyes set on bringing home the silverware - and boosting the profile of CP football overall.

"The Lionesses, they were on the same scale as us previously and look at them now. They're massive, they're household names. Obviously that's something we want to be.

"That sort of thing is massive for us. Even me just coming into the sport in 2015, I can see it's improved so much. There's so much going on in the sport, England Football are behind it, the talent pathway is there and people are coming up through the ranks.

"It's not something that when I first joined, people were a little bit worried about showcasing and showing. Now it's something to be proud of.

"If you've got a disability, it makes you no different. You've got ability, regardless of what it is. It might not be football, it could be a different para-sport but if you've got a keen heart and you're interested in it, it's something you can pursue."

England kick off their campaign against Spain at 12:30pm on Friday 2 June, before facing the Netherlands and hosts Italy.

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