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Published 15 March 2023 4 min read
England Para Teams

Adam Lione targeting world title for Para Lions

Written by:

Alec McQuarrie

England partially-sighted player looking to go one further this summer when IBSA World Championships are hosted on home soil


England’s Adam Lione has been waiting more than three years to even the score and defeat the unbeatable Ukraine.

In 2019, the England Partially Sighted squad lost their second consecutive World Championship final to four-time champions Ukraine, with Lione shown a dubious red card for deliberate handball.

But for the first time since 2004, the Para Lions will have home advantage with the 2023 IBSA World Games held in Birmingham in August.

And Lione insists England have a better chance than ever to go one step further and lift the trophy.

“We’ve got a big, big six months ahead," said Lione. "The squad is in the best position it has been, the players [manager] Steve Daley has brought in and what he’s getting out of them is remarkable.

“It’s a really exciting time. Since the development squad has come back in the last couple of years it’s really putting the pressure on the likes of myself, John [McDougall], JP [Josh Pugh] and all the senior players.

“We’ve got people like Jake [Heasman], Liam Spinks and even Luke [Wynne?] who’s come in from nowhere at the age of 25 but has brought something to the squad straight away.

Partially sighted football explained...

Find out more about the format of the game which Adam and his teammates play

“It’s finding those players that are really going to push us to the next level and hopefully win a World Cup in August.”

And while the whole squad are focused on bringing football home and defeating Ukraine for the very first time, Lione can’t help but dwell on what transpired in Turkey in 2019.

Lione recalled: “It was disappointing, right on the stroke of half time. I felt the ball hit my arm but I’m a B2 – there’s no way I can even see the ball from two yards away.

“I saw the referee running over and I thought no way is he doing this, because there’s nothing I could do.

“John [McDougall] was standing right next to me and even he was shouting at the ref: he’s a B2, you can’t be serious!

“I’m not ashamed to say I got into the changing room and smashed it up, lost my head a little bit and was pretty devastated.

“It’s just one of those things. But it’s making me itch even more to go in August. I’ve had three-and-a-half years of that lingering in my mind.

“I feel like I’ve progressed as a player so much since then and I’m just ready to take on this tournament in August.”
Lione in full flow at a training camp for the England partially sighted team at St. George's Park in March
Lione in full flow at a training camp for the England partially sighted team at St. George's Park in March
It will be Lione’s fourth World Championships and England Partially Sighted Football captain John McDougall has seen his whole journey - from a cheeky youngster to one of the central cogs in the squad.

McDougall said: “When he joined, probably like a lot of the lads, Adam was frustrated, trying to find his feet as a person and a footballer.

“Then you watch him through university, growing up and seeing him get into a relationship, buy a house and get a brilliant job.

“He’s turned into a really mature lad, a really senior player, liked by everyone and very helpful.

“It’s got to the point where the lads will go to him for advice, seeing him as someone that delivers on the pitch, but most importantly delivers off it.”

Lione now works as an assistant producer for broadcast production agency Whisper, jetting off around the globe to cover massive sporting events including the Paralympics, European Championships and box office boxing bouts.

It's truly a dream job for the 29 year old, who was born with Retinoblastoma, a genetic condition that nearly cost him his life at six months old.

“They didn’t know a great deal about it back then and for the first few months my mum was like there’s something wrong with my baby, because every time she laid me down on my head I was screaming bloody murder," he revealed.

“But everyone was saying I was just a whinging child. It got to the point where she wasn’t having it and took me up to a specialist in London who said we need to remove the eye now or we could lose him tomorrow.

“It had already started spreading to the right. Fortunately, it got treated and I managed to keep my right eye but I’ve got some issues with that as well.”

The diagnosis did not stop Lione enjoying an untroubled childhood, initially competing in mainstream football before training at Highbury when his beloved Arsenal started offering disability football sessions.

Lione said: “I never really understood it. I was still a carefree kid, quite hyperactive so I never really thought about it. I always used to find it quite funny and cool that I was different.

“I was lucky that I went to a really nice school where no one really got picked on and I think there was a genuine understanding about what had gone on with me from the other kids in school.”