Huntingdon footballer aiming to win World Cup for England

Gary Marheineke training with the England Amputee team at St Ives Outdoor Centre.

Gary Marheineke training with the England Amputee team at St Ives Outdoor Centre. - Credit: Archant

A Huntingdon man is bidding to rule the football world.

Gary Marheineke is the goalkeeper of the England team lining up in the World Cup of Amputee Football in Mexico which starts on Sunday.

And he has high hopes of leading his country to glory only two years after being persuaded to take up this form of the sport.

Marheineke, who was born with part of his right arm and a hand missing, had previously played 11-a-side football and represented Huntingdon Town in the United Counties League.

The 30-year-old said: “I always had the mindset that I did mainstream things rather than disability sports.

“It took a lot of persuading for me to even think about taking up amputee football, but Andy Coles at the Hunts FA made me look at it from a different angle and I’m so pleased that I did.

“It is so exciting to know I am only a few days away from being involved in a World Cup. It is a major tournament and we are going there to try to win it.”

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England have been drawn alongside African nations Angola and Ghana in the group phase and have high hopes of progressing to the knockout stages.

Every member of the England playing squad and coaching staff has raised £2,000 to cover the cost of the trip to Mexico.

Marheineke has been generously sponsored by Colin Medwynter – the father of Huntingdon Town players Ollie and Louie – through his Focus Publishing business.

He has been overwhelmed by well-wishes of support from family and friends across the area.

Marheineke added: “I’m very grateful to Colin for sponsoring me so I can play in the World Cup and to everyone who has supported me.

“It means so much that so many people have put their faith in me and it would be so special if I could win it for them. It is an incredible feeling to pull on an England shirt and represent my country.”

England warmed up for the World Cup with a runners-up finish in a major European competition back in September.

They were beaten 2-1 in the final of the Amp Futbol Cup by Turkey (a country where there is a professional amputee league).

Marheineke added: “Losing in that final knocked the confidence of the lads a bit, but we have regrouped since then and we trained well together.”