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📝 England call-up for ECFC Walking Footballer John

John Salvatore selected to play for England over-70s walking football team

28 October 2019

Little did John Salvatore know when he was kicking a football around his local south London park in the 1960s that one day he would get the call-up from England.

And at the age of 72, he’s certainly had to wait a little while for it - for John, who moved to Devon in 1971, has been selected to play in the over 70s England Walking Football team.

John, who got to meet City goalkeepers Jonny Maxted and Dino Visser on the back of his call up, began playing Walking Football with CITY Community Trust around three years ago when he joined the charity’s Wonford sessions.

He says: "It was only by pure chance that I embraced Walking Football. Invited by a friend, Dev Bheemah, about three years ago to come along and watch a session at Wonford Leisure Centre, I was immediately inveigled into playing in goal.

"Despite initial reservations about both Walking Football and indoor football I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It wasn’t too long, goalkeepers being thin on the ground, that I was turning out not only at Wonford but also for the Exeter City Walking Football teams (The Grecians and The Reds) in the fledgling Devon Walking Football League."

John was part of the team who took part in a walking football exhibition match at half-time at St James Park in front of nearly 5,000 spectators and then the opportunity to play for the south west regional (over 60s) team came along via a trial.

He adds: "Things moved very rapidly after that. Within six months there was talk of an over 70s England team to join the already established over 50s and over 60s teams playing under the auspices of the International Walking Football Federation (IWFF). Trials were held and I was selected for the nine-man first team squad to represent England (over 70s) in an away fixture against Wales in November of this year.

"To anyone thinking of playing Walking Football I would say do it – it’s a lot of fun, will help with fitness and you will make new friends and - who knows - you might even earn an England call up."

Walking Football sessions take place in Exeter, Honiton, Axminster, Exmouth, Uffculme, Cullompton, Crediton and Sidmouth. For more information visit www.exetercct.org/walking-footballor email peter.ferlie@ecfc.co.uk


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