England seniors win the World Cup
Former Stafford Rangers captain Kevin Mooney has set the benchmark for the England team in Russia this summer, by winning the World Cup, writes Ben Husband.
The-59-year old was part of England’s senior side that clinched their third straight World Cup in Thailand earlier this month.
“It was amazing, a truly brilliant experience,” said Mooney. “To win every game in the tournament and then go on to beat Scotland in the final it doesn’t get any better than that for a proud Englishman.”
The England side – with names like former Fulham man Barry Hayles and ex-Middlesbrough striker Peter Beagrie – dominated the tournament, before ruthlessly thrashing the Scots 4-0 in the final.
“Our team is of such a good level, the pedigree of some of our players is ridiculous,” added Mooney. “But Scotland did challenge us in the final, luckily for us our class came through and we won quite comfortably in the end.
“We’re the first nation to win three titles in a row, which shows just how well we have played. I hope we can be the first England team lifting a trophy this summer.”
Mooney was one of three over-50s in the team that could be used as rolling subs.
“To be honest I’m coming towards the end now,” he said. “Eight years ago in my first tournament I played every minute, but it’s not as easy anymore playing against 38-year-old blokes.
“I’m pretty confident this will be my last World Cup but I’ll still be playing as long as I can. But maybe six games in seven days is a bit of a stretch now.”
Retiring from football aged 38, Mooney could never have imagined the Indian summer he has enjoyed.
“When you finish playing semi-pro football, you presume that’s it,” he said. “But then I found veteran football and before you know it, a man introducing himself as the ‘Harrogate and England manager’ is calling you up. I just laughed and presumed it was a wind up!
“It’s been an incredible journey,” he said. “I’ve been so honoured and humbled to represent my country for so long and I’ve met some great people along the way.”
Despite this possibly being the glorious end to his international career, Mooney doesn’t intend to hang up his boots yet.
“I’m 59 but I’m still fit as a fiddle and I train very hard,” he said. “If I can still do it then why should I stop? I’ve got an over-50s only tournament in November and it will be nice to be the fittest player on the pitch again!
“Although I’ve now won four World Cups, I still get just as much enjoyment from seeing the look on the kids faces from seeing an England team in the flesh. Being in a position to give people so much happiness, it’s amazing. It’s just an experience I have been so lucky to have.”
Boro’s 1984/85 title winning skipper still retains a soft spot for his old club: “I love that football team, it’s full of great people and I enjoyed my time there so much, they made me regain my love for football.
“I used to play with Steve (Burr) and when I heard he was in charge, I was delighted and I’m sure he will do brilliantly.
“They are a club with a large passionate support and they should be in the National League again and maybe even one day the league.”