Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC’s Gregg Baxter is hoping to make his full international debut this week after being named in England’s European Powerchair Football Association (EPFA) Nations Cup squad.
England will compete against host-nation Finland, Northern Ireland, Austria, Republic of Ireland, Denmark, and France, during the tournament, which runs from 22nd May until 26th May.
The England squad has travelled to Finland confident of making a major impact on the Nations Cup, which is powerchair football’s version of the European Championships.
They will open their campaign against Austria on Thursday morning, and Baxter is relishing the prospect of representing his country. He said, “It’s every young footballer’s dream to one day represent their country, and that dream is the same for an able-bodied player or one with a disability.
“I grew up idolising players like Alan Shearer, Frank Lampard and John Terry, and so to be able to say I’ve played for my country as well as these legends will be a huge honour for me.”
Baxter was called up to the England squad after impressing for BHAPFC in the Muscular Dystrophy UK Premiership this season which saw the squad finish eighth in the national league.
The 17-year-old joins former BHAPFC captain Matt Francis, who now plays for West Bromwich Albion, in the national squad, and was quick to praise his new international teammates for the way they have helped him feel part of the squad.
“The lads have been brilliant with me from day one,” he said. “I definitely feel like a valued member of the team so I can’t thank them enough for making the transition from club to country as seamless as possible.”
And what does Baxter hope from the tournament? “Obviously I want to help England win.
“The training has been brilliant and there is a genuine belief flowing through the team that this is our year.
“On a more personal level, I’m not expecting to start and play every game, but I’d like to make my debut and put in a good shift when I’m called upon. Scoring a goal would be unbelievable. I just hope to do the club and the country proud.
“The support I’ve had at BHAPFC has been incredible since day one. We have a really close-knit team and I’ve made friends for life. Each teammate I’ve played with has taught me lessons I’ll remember not just for the rest of my career, but throughout my life.”
For updates on England’s progress, follow AITC on Twitter at: @Albioninthecomm.
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