Amputee footballers in Portsmouth are '˜inspirational' says England legend John Barnes

AMPUTEE footballers in Portsmouth have been hailed '˜inspirations' by England legend John Barnes.

Thursday, 16th June 2016, 6:00 am
Former England star John Barnes with players from Portsmouth Amputee FC. From left, Michael Beel, Roger Whitehouse, John Barnes, Gary Marheineke and Mike Gays

The former Liverpool and England winger joined a special training session of Portsmouth Amputee FC.

Barnes, who won 79 caps, said he was stunned by the skills shown by the disabled sportsmen.

‘The Portsmouth guys are an inspiration and I’m definitely going to be a fan from now on,’ he said.

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‘The football they are producing is amazing and we had a great time sharing our football stories and practising penalties.’

The 52-year-old star was visiting the club as part of the Don’t Quit Do It disability sport campaign run by law firm and Pompey sponsor Irwin Mitchell.

He shared some of his famous footballing stories with the squad and joined in with penalty shootouts, even recreating one of his famous England goals.

But it wasn’t just looking back at the past. Barnes and the team also spoke about who they felt were the hot favourites to win the Euros this year.

John Barnes with Mike Beel and Gary Marheineke

Ray Westbrook of Portsmouth Amputee FC was at the session and said: ‘It was great to meet John Barnes.

‘He’s someone that we’ve all seen on TV scoring goals for England and for him to take time out to come and train with us is a massive boost for the lads.

‘I think, like most people who see us play, he was surprised by the standard that we are at and he was able to give us some tips about how we play.

‘He told us some great stories and we talked about the Euros.’

John Barnes with Mike Beel and Gary Marheineke

Portsmouth Amputee FC plays in the English Amputee Football Association which is looking to grow in the next few years.

There are currently six teams across the UK competing in the league which is becoming more and more competitive each year.

The team hopes that some of the tips offered by Barnes will help them in their upcoming season.

Speaking about the Don’t Quit Do It campaign, the ex-England star added: ‘The Don’t Quit Do It campaign is really important and I hope more people can get involved in participating or supporting disability sports.

‘I’ve seen from spending time with the amputee football team how much it has helped them both as individuals and as a group.’

The campaign is run by Irwin Mitchell, which has offices across the UK including in Southampton. It says its injury lawyers see the benefits disability sport can have in clients’ rehabilitation and recovery from injuries.