I started to get excited about this trip almost as soon as it was announced at a training session earlier in the season. I remembered how much I had enjoyed the last trips I had gone on with Chelsea last year. As well as taking part in the first Disability Football Symposium at Barcelona’s training ground and having a photo taken with the players from Barcelona on the Nou Camp pitch, we also went to Switzerland for another international tournament. So I was pleased when I was told I would be going on the trip this year as well.
The itinerary came through about a week before the trip and on it, said that, as well as playing football with some local school children as part of another event and taking part in our own tournament, we would be going on a boat trip en route to train at the Swiss national team’s training ground and would have things to do in our spare time and evenings such as playing mini golf.
We set off from Heathrow airport on Tuesday, May 24th, on the 0740 flight to Brunnen. When we arrived at the airport we were picked up by our hosts and taken to our hotel on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Later that day we had our first training session which we used to sort out which players which formation would best suit our team. The formation we chose was 2-3-1.
The seven teams were put in two groups. We were in a group with a team from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and two local Swiss teams. The other group contained teams from AC Milan, Manchester City and FC Zurich.
Our first game was against the team from Abu Dhabi and although we were 2-0 up at half time, we ended up losing the game 3-2. We knew we had to improve or we would be facing an early exit! We had an opportunity to make up for our opening defeat with a game against one of the Swiss teams later that day. We managed to win that game 1-0 and knew that we would secure qualification for the semi finals if we won our next game.
We faced more local opposition the next day in our final group game and managed to keep another clean sheet in a 2-0 win. That meant we would face our fellow countrymen from Manchester City for a place in Saturday’s final. We started well and raced in to a 2-0 lead which we held until half time. Manchester City pulled a goal back early in the second half to give themselves a chance of a fight-back but we managed to put the game beyond doubt with a late third goal and came away with a 3-1 victory.
There were no games on the Friday so all the teams took a boat trip across Lake Lucerne for a training session at the Swiss national team’s training ground. We had short sessions with the coaches from each of the other teams. It was really interesting to be coached by different people and see all the various coaching techniques. Luckily for us, most of them spoke perfect English! After a quick trip to the shops, we exchanged gifts with the other teams and then had an early night ahead of the final which would be against FC Zurich.
After breakfast, we walked to the ground and got ready for the big game. Our final was part of a celebration of football and would be followed by a Swiss Legends vs Swiss Celebrities match. We got a big cheer from the crowd as we walked out on to the pitch.
It was a difficult, tight game but we managed to get the opening goal when our winger Andre Morley was fouled in the box by one of the Swiss defenders. Andre had said all week that he didn’t like taking penalties but he got off the floor, grabbed the ball and hammered it in to the net.
FC Zurich were a big, strong team and they did their best to get back in to the game but we held them off quite comfortably and managed to come away with a 1-0 win.
We set off back to London the following day with the trophy in our possession. Our coaches were full of praise for us, not just because we had won the tournament but also for the way that we had represented Chelsea Football Club and England with great pride and professionalism. The Switzerland trip capped an amazing three weeks for me, which also featured taking part in the CP Cup Final at St George’s Park, a National CP Tournament in Nottingham and a lap of honour at Stamford Bridge to celebrate winning our Southern CP League.