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Football heroes: Kent veterans lead England to World Cup glory

Photo courtesy of Kent Online UK

In a sensational victory, a group of seasoned footballers from Kent in southeast England showed Gareth Southgate’s 2024 squad how to do it as England Veterans secured the Seniors World Cup in Bangkok.

With a dramatic 1-0 win against New Zealand in the final, the over-40s squad celebrated their triumph earlier this month.

New Whitstable manager 41 year old Jamie Coyle was instrumental in the team’s success. Joining him were Chatham’s Matt Bodkin and Lee Hook, who was part of Ben Smith’s Ramsgate management team last season.

Coyle stated that most of the players are based up north or in the Midlands.

“Paul Bell, the manager, said to me, ‘If you know a few guys that might want to help out, just let me know.’”

Coyle’s connections proved invaluable.

“Now, I’m getting a few messages from people like Danny Kedwell. Paul is sort of using me as a bit of a southern scout for players who are still fit and now in their 40s. Bods and Hooky are good mates of mine. They did really well.”

Coyle, a former defender for Margate, Dartford, Welling, Maidstone, Ramsgate, and Erith & Belvedere, even captained England Veterans in their campaign-opening goalless draw with Australia. The team advanced from a tough group, edging out the hosts and Vietnam on goal difference, and defeated Iran 1-0 in the semi-finals despite being reduced to 10 men. Steve Jones, formerly of Crewe and Burnley, was the tournament hero, scoring seven goals, including the decisive strike in the final.

Coyle reflected on the victory.

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“It was brilliant. I had the opportunity to captain the team for the opening game against Australia. You only see the football side, but we went to local schools to do some coaching and took out kits for the youngsters. It was a really rewarding trip.”

As Coyle gears up to lead Whitstable in the Southern Counties East Premier Division promotion push, he’s ready to transition from player to manager, reported Kent Online, UK.

“I’ve still got a little bit of motivation to keep myself ticking over, but it was a nice way to officially hang the boots up in non-league football terms. We had five games in six days – in 62-degree humidity! Now, I’m really looking forward to trying to be successful at Whitstable.”

Football heroes: Kent veterans lead England to World Cup glory | News by Thaiger
Picture of Jamie Coyle in action for England Veterans courtesy of KentOnline

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