Shell-shocked Steve Ramsden is having to pinch himself after living out one schoolboy dream – now he's ready to take to the World Cup stage.
The 27-year-old former Yateley Green and Yateley United midfielder has already graced Wembley alongside the likes of David Ginola and has now been selected as one of only eight handpicked starlets to join Roy Hodgson and his squad in Rio and represent England in a world six-a-side competition.
And it’s a journey which could land Ramsden with a lucrative professional contract with League Two Dagenham & Redbridge having already offered a number of the England aces a trial at Victoria Road.
Ramsden’s plight began when he applied to take part in the Budweiser Open Trials event earlier in the season – just months after breaking his leg in action for Yateley United in the Surrey Elite League.
A successful trial at Hayes & Yeading – one of six regional events – soon saw Ramsden selected as one of 126 players invited to the England training camp, St George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent, where the top 36 performers were whittled down for an 11-a-side Wembley showdown.
Split into two teams under the stewardship of Farnborough-based former West Brom manager and Chelsea assistant Steve Clarke and his assistant, ex-England and Arsenal man Ray Parlour, plus Ginola and ex-Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish, Ramsden set about impressing the England coaches and after forming part of Clarke’s side which won 6-2 on the day, was selected as one of eight players to wear the Three Lions shirt for a special six-a-side tournament in Brazil in July.
“It was every boyhood dream, to play at Wembley,” said Ramsden, who is also guest of honour at this Saturday’s FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Hull City as well as a World Cup quarter-final match.
“It’s all happened so quick really and it just goes to show that it’s never too late for a second chance when I really did think that my dream wouldn’t come true.
“Now I’ve played at Wembley and going to play in Rio during a World Cup,” I keep having to pinch myself and can’t wait to get out there.”