Great start for Pugh as England Blind Football win his first two matches against Turkey

First published in Sport
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Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Reporter

JON Pugh has made a great start to his role as England blind football team manager.

The Westfields goalkeeper last week sealed back to back wins over Turkey - 2-0 and 3-0.

It was Pugh’s first two matches in charge after being appointed coach on a full-time basis.

Pugh said: “After the European Championships last year, the then England head coach stepped down and they needed someone with a bit of guidance and experience to come in. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go for the job.”

Pugh was interim coach when he took England to Spain and they were unbeaten in three matches - defeating the European champions once and drawing twice.

Pugh was the assistant to Tony Larkin when they were both controversially axed from the national team’s coaching set-up in December 2012.

“I was out of the frame for six months but I am still fairly young and I had the opportunity to make the decisions and I got it,” said Pugh.

“I am confident that I can set them up in the right way it’s just whether the lads can perform.

“They deserve to start playing well for all the hard work they have put in over the last six months.

“We knew we were in a good position and playing in the right way.”

England won Pugh’s first game in charge, 2-0 against Turkey last Wednesday afternoon.

And the team enjoyed a 3-0 success in their second match on Thursday morning.

Both matches took place on the outdoor pitch at Hereford’s Royal National College for the Blind.

“I had a little bit of nerves before the first game - it’s a bit different when you are not playing,” said Pugh.

“It’s same sort of players we had at London 2012 and the young players have got more experience.”

The FA national manager for disability football, Jeff Davis, says Pugh is the right man to lead England.

“We had an open recruitment process and Jon was the best candidate,” said Davis.

“Jon worked very closely with Tony Larkin and was a goalkeeper at this level.

“He knows the game and has been playing it for the last 13 or 14 years.

“Jon has come in and done a fantastic job since the manager who went to the European Championships stopped doing the job.

“Jon has made a positive impact and his knowledge of the sport is fantastic and we’re really pleased he is going to take this team forward and I am pretty sure he will take them to a medal in Rio.”

Davis said he was also trying to get Larkin back into the fold.

“Tony has got a wealth of experience and we want to use him to enthuse the next level of player coming through and he will be doing some scouting for us and Tony will be very much involved in the England set-up.”

Hereford lad Luke Brimfield, who plays for RNC in the league, made a promising debut for the England team.

Pugh said: “Lewis Skyers was tied up and Luke has been working with the transitional and development squad and plays for RNC in the league.

“I know all about Luke and I had no doubt that he would do a good job.”

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