ENGLAND’S next World Cup hopes are in safe hands.
Or rather the rather flicking fingers of young Coen Townsend.
He’s swapping his goalkeeper slot in Lepton Highlanders Under 9s to take on the world – at Subbuteo.
And he’s doing so with only a few months’ experience on the table football circuit.
Coen, 8, has been invited to be part of the England squad in the Subbuteo World Cup which takes place in Rain, Germany, in September.
He’ll be joined by his dad Philip, who plays with Coen in Kent Invicta, a team which competes across the UK.
Coen is one of the stars. He was introduced to the game only last autumn but has already won many matches at tournaments across the country and excelled at last months’s national championships in Leicester.
But whisper it quietly – the young Liverpool fan, who idolises Steven Gerrard – has a secret.
He and his dad have been able to get their hands on special heavyweight player bases, manufactured in Italy, which they team up with the traditional English plastic figures to produce a team of winners.
Coen, of Fenay Bridge, a pupil at Lepton C of E Junior and Infant School, said: “I’m really excited about being asked to the World Cup.
“I have played some tough opponents in this country and I hope I can do well in Germany.
“My favourite team is Liverpool and I hope they can help me do well in the contest”.
Philip, of Heckmondwike, said Coen first played the game last October.
“My brother Miguel, who was a Subbuteo champion years ago, was taking up the game again and asked me to have a look in the attic.
“We found a pitch and teams and Coen was hooked from the start.
“He and I began playing when Miguel came up to visit from Gillingham and we then joined the team that Miguel runs. We have played in several tournaments and Coen has done really well, winning his age groups and beating much older boys, as well as a few adults.
“He has good control and also seems very tactically astute. It will be a real thrill when he gets to go to Germany for the World Cup”.
But it’s not just at table football that Coen excels. He plays in goal for the Highlanders, plays tennis and cricket and recently swam for his school in a big gala.
Peter Adolph’s first kits hit the shops in 1947
The name comes from the bird Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo) after Adolph was refused a trademark to call the game ‘Hobby’.
The original players were flat cardboard cutouts and the goals were made of wire, with paper nets
The first sets had no pitches; players were advised to use “old Army blankets” marked with chalk
The first sets had teams wearing red shirts and blue shirts. Now there are more than 300 choices