Bob Bloomfield admits he realised a lifelong dream when he played at Wembley – at the grand old age of 70.
The Portchester septuagenarian – who last played a competitive game at the age of 41 – won his place in a competition organised by ESPN, in association with Virgin Media and the FA Cup.
Turning out for Franck Leboeuf’s blue team, the Pompey fan then played alongside former FA Cup final matchwinner Lawrie Sanchez and the other competition winners as they edged a 1-0 win over former Arsenal midfielder Michael Thomas’ side.
Bloomfield, who turned out for Metal Box, alongside former Pompey players Alfie Noakes and Charlie Dore in the Portsmouth League back in his playing days, used all of his experience as he turned out for around 15 minutes.
And after being given the all clear in his recovery from cancer, it was a perfect celebration.
‘It was absolutely unbelievable,’ said Bloomfield.
‘I played at Fratton Park in 1960 in a cup final and we won 4-3.
‘When we were youngsters, it was your dream to play at Fratton Park.
‘But not in a million years did I ever think I would be able to play at Wembley.
‘The week before, I had gone to the hospital to have a biopsy taken. I’d been diagnosed with bladder cancer about 10 years ago, had chemotherapy and everything. But that Friday, they told me I was all clear.
‘Later that day, I checked my e-mail and there was one from Virgin asking me if I wanted to enter a competition to play at Wembley.
‘Then I got a call from Virgin and my first thought was “why did I bother going into that competition, I’m going to get all these sales calls now?”
‘But she told me I’d won the competition to play at Wembley!
‘I couldn’t believe it.’
Two games then took place between four teams as ex-pros Ian Rush and Martin Keown led the other sides.
But Bloomfield, who played as a full-back, teamed up with Leboeuf who got the most out of his secret weapon with some top man-management.
Bloomfield said: ‘Franck said afterwards that I was a 70-year-old with the speed of a gazelle but I think it got lost in translation. I was more like Long John Silver!
‘But it was great to play with Lawrie Sanchez – he was an absolute gentleman.
‘I was on the pitch for half of the first half and Franck asked me what I wanted to do in the second half. I told him I wanted to be on the pitch when the game finished so I came back on for the last five minutes. It was fantastic.’
Watched by his wife Pauline and his family, Bloomfield rolled back the years with his display.
‘There was one moment when a guy came down the wing at me and all of a sudden I felt like I was 20 years old again.
‘I went in for a sliding tackle and by the time I hit the ground this guy was about 30 yards behind me!
‘But I just feel so lucky to have done it and played at Wembley – especially wearing blue.
‘It’s something I will never forget.’