St Albans-based banker David Clarke is leading Great Britain’s blind footballers in their quest for glory in the European Championships in Turkey.
David, who is Senior Partner at Clydesdale Bank’s Financial Solutions Centre (FSC) at Verulam Point, St Albans, is captain of the team which faces competition from the likes of Germany, Spain and France at the tournament.
After playing football from a young age, David joined the national squad when it was set up in 1995. He is the longest serving member of the England team, having scored 118 goals in the 126 games he has played for his country.
David also represented Great Britain at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and has featured in numerous TV documentaries.
Recently, he played a prominent role in the launch of ticket sales for the London 2012 Paralympics, when the Great Britain blind team won a penalty shootout against a Sky TV team featuring Chris Kamara, Ray Wilkins, Matt Le Tissier and Paul Merson in London’s Trafalgar Square. David was also featured in the first of 10 Channel 4 programmes profiling Paralympic sports called “Best of British”.
“We are one of the favourites to win the European Championships and with five silver medals in my trophy cabinet already, the team and I are focused on adding a gold,” said David.
“We are up against Germany, Italy and France in our group with the top two teams going on to the semi-finals.”
The other group in the competition features Spain, Greece, Russia and the hosts Turkey. The final takes place on October 1.
Blind football teams are made up of five players, four outfield players and the goalkeeper, who is sighted but cannot leave his area. Games are played on a solid surface and with a ball that contains ball bearings so that it makes a noise when it moves. There are no offside rules and the crowd are often asked to remain silent so the players can hear the ball more clearly.
Away from his England duties, David is also a governor of the Hereford-based Royal National College of the Blind, the UK's leading college of further education and training for people over the age of 16 who are blind, partially sighted or who have other disabilities.
“Everyone at Clydesdale Bank and our local members in St Albans have followed David’s England career with pride,” said Mark Laughlan, Managing Partner at the St Albans FSC.
“We are all very excited about the team’s prospects in Turkey and will be following their progress, hopefully all the way to the final so David can lift the trophy.”