England’s football players have settled in Germany as they prepare for Euro 2024 in hope of going one step further this time and lifting the trophy.

However, older counterparts did just that on Saturday when an England Veterans team, comprising of ex-professionals and semi-pros from across the footballing pyramid, lifted the 16th Seniors World Cup Final in the heat and humidity of Bangkok, Thailand, beating New Zealand 1-0 in the final with a headed goal from ex-Burnley and Crewe Alexandra striker Steve Jones.

Former Premier League players Barry Hayles and Deon Burton were part of the squad, along with several former EFL players, including the Burnley trio of Jones, Dean West and Ian Cox, that had to play five games of 80 minutes duration in just six days, in temperatures that peaked at 39 degrees in the late afternoon matches, to win the eight country tournament.


Retaining the trophy they won last year was a triumph over adversity for the English who also saw injuries and illness in the camp disrupt their opening group fixture.

In addition, the unique age rules of the competition meant that there had to be a minimum of three over 50s on the pitch at all times, (3 x 40-44s, 4 x 45-49) - a manager’s nightmare in terms of squad assembly and in game management!

Matty Wain, who is a college tutor at York college, played his part in two of the five games in which he assisted Jones' third goal in their 3-0 victory vs Vietnam.

Matty told the Press: “It was an unbelievable experience getting a taste of what life as an international football player must be like, I feel blessed to be a part of it.

"Lining up for the national anthem is something I will never forget.

"We also had a day off from the football when we visited local schools where we delivered coaching sessions and gave out football kits. Something that was really special.

"As well as playing I was also part of the management team, I was analysing opponents and then presented to the squad my findings before each game, with the hope that this information would help the team get the results required on the pitch.

"A daunting task speaking in front of ex-international football stars but one that was also really rewarding."

A 0-0 draw in the opening match against a strong Australian side containing former Perth Glory players and those who also boasted EFL experience, was therefore deemed a good outcome by Manager Paul Bell, before a 3-0 victory over Vietnam the following day in which Jones, now deemed fit, delivered a hat-trick.

A day later, hosts Thailand require a win to secure a semi-final place at England’s expense, but it was Jones again who denied them with a brace in a 2-1 victory.

Australia however had pipped them to top position on goals scored which set the English up for a tricky semi-final tie against Iran, the side they’d beaten in last year’s final, and a side comprised of several ex-internationals.

In a tense and tight encounter with few clear chances, the match seemed to be slipping away from the holders when former York City midfielder Jon Challinor was sent off for a second yellow card with 20 minutes still remaining.

Cue a determined rear guard action against waves of Iranian attacks that looked to be holding out for penalties, when a quick break away in the final minute saw Jones taking his only chance of the half to secure a 1-0 victory.

The final at the earlier and even warmer kick off time of 4pm saw New Zealand as unexpected opponents, having seen off the Aussies in a penalty shoot out.

Possession was even in the afternoon sun but it was England making the chances and the breakthrough came 13 minutes into the second half when Jones reacted first to Lee Connor’s deft header from a Lee Elam corner, to head home the winner.

This latest success means that England have now won the Seniors World Cup seven times since first participating in 2008.

The international tournament, is organized by the Seniors Football Association of Thailand, and initially conceived as part of the government projects to revitalise tourism following the devastating Tsunami of 2005.

Now it is over to Gareth and the younger players!