The captain of Brighton & Hove Albion’s powerchair team has been called-up to the England squad for the 2017 World Cup.
Matt Francis has been a regular at the national team’s training camps after impressing the selectors with a series of eye-catching displays for Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC (BHAPFC).
The Albion team, which is run by the Seagulls’ official charity Albion in the Community (AITC), play in the Muscular Dystrophy UK Premiership and are currently second in the country’s top division.
Earlier this season they also made their debut in European competition, coming sixth in the Champions Cup tournament, where they were the only team to beat eventual winners and current French champions Auch.
Now Francis, who is studying law at the University of Sussex, is on track to make his England debut at the World Cup, which takes place in Kissimmee, Florida in July.
Taking to the pitch against the likes of Canada, Uruguay, Denmark, Argentina and Japan will mark a remarkable rise to the top of the game for the 19-year-old, who only started playing the sport as recently as 2009.
Speaking shortly after he was confirmed as being part of the World Cup squad, he said: “Everyone who plays football when they are young wants to play for their country so I am incredibly proud.
“I cannot wait to make my England debut and to do so at a World Cup will be amazing.
“Without the tremendous support from both my teammates and coaches at BHAPFC I would not have this amazing opportunity. They have challenged me to reach my full potential and inspired me to work hard for what I want to achieve.
“Football hasn’t just given me direction and many friends, it has taught me that life is limitless and you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Stewart Teeder, who coaches BHAPFC, was adamant that Francis was fully-deserving of his place on the plane to America. He said: “Matt has worked incredibly hard to get to into the England squad and everyone at Albion in the Community is very proud of him.
“Not only is Matt a fantastic player but he is also a brilliant captain and teammate and a superb example of what can be achieved with the right combination of talent and dedication.”