Nicky Southall and his England teammates are flying to Thailand this week to defend the World Cup.
Yes, you did read that right and no you haven’t travelled back in time to the Stones assistant manager’s heyday.
Southall will be taking part in the Seniors World Cup in Pitsanulok between 5 and 10 June. He made his debut in the competition last summer and while Roy Hodgson’s men were exiting Euro 2016 in France, the seniors, which featured the likes of Peter Beagrie and Barry Hayles, got through to the final and beat the hosts by a goal to nil.
Nicky said: “It was such a great experience for me personally and all the players involved. To put that England shirt on and represent your country, in any capacity, doesn’t half set the juices going.
“To win it last year was fantastic. I’ve got a lot of special memories and I am looking forward to going out there and trying to retain it.
“I’ve been training really hard in the last month to give myself every chance. If we get through to the final again, we’ll have to play six games in eight days, in 40 degree heat. For anybody at any level that’s tough, so you’ve got to look after yourself and prepare right – much the same as I did when I was a pro.”
All the players in the Senior World Cup have to be aged 38 and over and there has to be a set number of players aged between 38 and 44, 45 and 50 and 50+ on the pitch at any one time.
Nicky added: “Some people think it’s a jolly up but it’s a serious competition. We want to bring back the trophy and come away with a life-changing experience. From the preparation to the scouting of the opposition, everything’s done just as it would be for an international competition.
“I would like to thank Maidstone United for sponsoring me. It’s a self-funding tournament and a lot of people have got behind the team and we’re really grateful for that.”
The club are Nicky’s kit sponsor and chief executive Bill Williams added: “We’d like to wish Nicky and his teammates every success as they bid to retain the cup and we’re delighted to be sponsoring him. I am just disappointed to be on holiday at that time or I would have been dusting off my boots for a star appearance at centre back!”
There will be updates from Thailand during the five day tournament and you can watch matches live on YouTube.