AMPUTEE FOOTBALL: European Championships final appearance for England is one of goalkeeper Gary Marheineke’s ‘proudest moments’
- Credit: Archant
Gary Marheineke has spoken of his pride after starring in the first European Championships final for England.
The locally-based goalkeeper was part of the national team beaten 2-1 by hosts Turkey in the showpiece of the inaugural tournament on Monday.
Simply making the final was a mammoth achievement for an England side whose players had to fund their own involvement in the tournament.
They were rewarded by starring in a showpiece clash watched by 40,000 spectators at the magnificent Vodafone Park stadium in Istanbul – the home of Turkish giants Besiktas.
Marheineke said: “We were disappointed to be beaten in the final, but there was a huge amount of pride at what we achieved.
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“The sport is huge in Turkey with a professional league whereas we come together as a squad once a month if we are lucky.
“We gave absolutely everything and the lads were class. We did really well to stay in the game and took our chance to equalise when it came. I thought we deserved to take the final to extra-time, but it wasn’t to be.
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“Representing my country in front of 40,000 fans in a European Championships final is one of the proudest moments of my life and something I will never forget.
“It was an incredible feeling to play in such a wonderful stadium. It is something you dream about as a kid.”
England fell behind towards the end of the first half before hitting a late leveller, but there was still time for Turkey to dramatically snatch victory in stoppage time.
Incredibly Turkey’s opener was the first goal Marheineke conceded in England’s sixth match of the tournament.
They issued a statement of intent with an 8-0 drubbing of Greece in their first outing before following up with 1-0 wins against Ireland and Russia to dominate Group C.
England then saw off France by a 2-0 scoreline in the last eight before beating Spain 3-0 in the semi-final.
Marheineke has thanked local companies Mick George and Howdens Joinery for sponsoring his participation in the tournament along with all those who contributed to the £500 he managed to raise through a crowdfunding appeal.
Marheineke is a well-known figure in this area. He is currently part of the St Ives Town Under 18s management team.
He works as a coach for the Football Association and is also behind a goalkeeping camp which takes place at the One Leisure Outdoor Centre in St Ives on Tuesdays.
The sessions are open to boys and girls aged between seven and 17. Anyone interested should contact Marheineke by email at firstname.lastname@example.org