Matt Crossen: 'We have already made history but we want to go one further'
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You can watch the full match between England CP and Ukraine at the IFCPF European Championship final
England Cerebral Palsy captain Matt Crossen previews the IFCPF European Championship final against Ukraine
As birthday presents go, captaining your country into its first major final is pretty special. That is the situation England Cerebral Palsy skipper Matt Crossen finds himself in today as the Para Lions look to beat Ukraine and lift the 2023 IFCPF European Championship trophy.
The Para Lions have already made history in Sardinia by becoming the first England CP team to reach a major final.
And whilst Crossen was treated to a birthday cake and song from his team-mates and staff at the hotel this morning, he is hoping the best present is yet to come.
“Having the chance to play in a first major final on my birthday is fantastic – I’m over the moon,” Crossen said.
“There are bigger things going on today than my birthday but the stars have aligned and it’s funny how it has played out.
“We have done really well so far but we haven’t really stepped up out of third gear yet I don’t think. In some of the games, even though we won them and they looked comfortable on TV, we have been a bit disappointed.
“But everything has led up to today. We will leave nothing on the pitch and we are looking forward to it.”
Ukraine are considered by many to be the best team on the planet and are the reigning IFCPF World Cup holders.
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But Crossen stressed: “Ukraine are a good side but then so are we. On our day, we will give everyone a game.
“It is two top teams in Europe battling it out in a final and that is what you want. That is why you play in these competitions and that is why I wanted to become a footballer, because you want to play the best teams in the world and fortunately playing for England you get the opportunity to do that
“We are all really excited and we are going to play with smiles on our faces and take it as it comes.
“We have already made history but we don’t want to settle and we want to go one further.”
Crossen continues to excel in the heart of England’s defence and like the rest of the squad, has worked tirelessly to get to his country’s first major final.
The captain thanked all of the Para Lions’ staff and was keen to recognise all the support the players have received back home.
He said: “We have trained for the past year to get here, with the camps at St. George’s Park and Lilleshall and it has been a whirlwind of emotions – now we are ready for it.
“The staff have been unbelievable for us and looked after us since day one. And all the support we have had from England on social media has been second to none.
“We love it. We look at it all over here and all of the hype we have had. All the lads have been receiving messages of support and all the lads’ phones have been going mad this morning ahead of the final. It is a day to celebrate all around.”