A VETERAN England football international has secured a unique player sponsorship by signing up Ben Robinson.
The Brewers Chairman is more used to selling player sponsorships for his first team squad than buying them, but when he was approached by England over 60s footballer Gordon Tate for support, he agreed to back the walking footballer.
The 62-year-old is a former club employee who started playing football again five years ago by joining Burton Albion Community Trust’s Walking Football programme.
He quickly rose through the ranks to win national recognition and decided to ask the Chairman for sponsorship as he looks to build his international career.
Gordon said: “I was on Leeds United's books as a schoolboy in the early 1970s and played regular semi-pro and amateur football until the age of 42.
“I have also operated as a football scout for various clubs, including Sheffield Utd, Bradford City and Motherwell, as a personal favour to Stuart McCall, who is a family friend.
“I discovered the joys of walking football and joined the training sessions run by Burton Albion Community Trust. In the past few years, I have been a regular at the sessions and have also represented Burton Albion in various tournaments and competitions (reaching the finals of a national competition three years ago).
“Early last year I was invited to take part in regional trials for possible selection to the England Walking Football set up. It was with surprise and pride that I discovered I had been chosen for the England over 60s squad and I attended two further training sessions.
“Since then, the Covid situation has intervened and curtailed many of our attempts to play. However, during the last easing of conditions I made my debut for England against the Republic of Ireland in the Jack Charlton Memorial Trophy and I am now the proud owner of a full international cap.
“It was an eventful outing, culminating in me scoring one goal, having another ruled out, hitting the crossbar twice and having to take a three-minute sin bin for running, all in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
“Many years ago, I had a spell as Burton Albion's Commercial Manager, when the club was based at Eton Park and I decided to approach Ben for sponsorship and I’m absolutely delighted he has agreed.
“The official website www.theewfc.co.uk has all the details and this is where sponsors names and messages will appear. As there is no major sponsor at present, we have all been asked to pursue individual small sponsorships to help with the running costs of kits etc and it’s great to have Ben on board.”
Ben Robinson said: “It’s fantastic news that Gordon has become a full international after starting playing again through our charity’s walking football scheme.
“I’m delighted to be Gordon’s sponsor and I look forward to hearing more about his exploits in an England shirt.”
Matt Hancock, BACT Head of Community, said: “Walking football is a great way of keeping the over 50s fit, healthy and still active in the game.
“It’s great when players like Gordon make progress and play in regional, national and international tournaments but you don’t have to have England aspirations to enjoy walking football. There are sessions for all ages over 50 and all abilities and we look forward to welcoming players back on the programmes as soon as Covid restrictions are eased.”