Matthew is bound for Beijing

Matthew Ellis, who has cerebral palsy, will get a real kick out of competing for Great Britain in the Paralympics.The 28-year-old footballer, from Thetford, has admitted he still can't believe he will be competing at the very highest level in Beijing in September.

Matthew Ellis, who has cerebral palsy, will get a real kick out of competing for Great Britain in the Paralympics.

The 28-year-old footballer, from Thetford, has admitted he still can't believe he will be competing at the very highest level in Beijing in September.

He made his England debut for the cerebral palsy team when he was 25, taking part in the CP World Championship in the USA and captained England last year against Ireland.

“There is a certain irony that by having cerebral palsy I've travelled the world and experienced things that I would never have done otherwise, as my football skills wouldn't have been


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good enough at Premiership level,” Matthew told website TheFA.com

“I was a relative latecomer to CP football as it wasn't that well publicised.

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“Like a lot of the lads, I never dreamt I'd end up representing England at international level.”

He added: “My involvement came about through frustration really. I had played football at university and after I googled 'disability football', found out about Colchester United's pan-disability team.

“Voted Player of The Year at Colchester, I got speaking to Steve Bartlett, who at that time was also the England Head Coach, and from there I had a trial.

“Getting involved with the England team really did change my life. I was keen to play for a mainstream Saturday or Sunday team but my confidence was low as I walk with a limp, and I thought other teams would sledge me as a result.”

Matthew is an Aviation Insurance Broker, working for AON in the Lloyd's of London building.

“If you speak to a lot of people and they hear the term 'disabled', their instant reaction is to pity you,” he said.

“My job is certainly different and helps to turn some of those perceptions right around, and then when you throw in the fact I play football for my country, it all sounds a bit unreal!” he said.

“I've never been fitter and now I play for my company and in the mainstream Colchester district league too.”

What did he think of Britain's chances? “The draw for the tournament will be unseeded, so it really could be down to luck as to whether we escape some of the top teams, or end up in the 'group of death',” he admitted.

International Cerebral Palsy football is played in a seven-a-side format with two halves of 30 minutes each.

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