English football has finally enjoyed cup success in a penalty shoot-out – at table-top SUBBUTEO.
Patriotic Englishman Darren Clarke, 38, took the World Subbuteo Masters title by beating Italian Massimilano Nastasi on spot kicks in a tense final.
After a miserable performance by England’s footballers at this summer’s World Cup, Clarke’s miniature men put opposition from seven European nations to shame.
He won the final 4-3 on sudden death penalties – his THIRD successful shoot-out of the competition – to land £10,000 at the first-ever professional Subbuteo tournament.
Overjoyed Darren, of Bristol, said: ”Winning the World Masters in my home city of Bristol backed by a large supportive and vocal crowd is an experience I’ll never forget.
”It has made the last 20 years of travelling Europe to attend tournaments at my own expense completely worthwhile.
”To become the first Englishman to win the World Masters title gives me immense pride – especially winning a sudden death penalty shoot-out to clinch the title.”
The charity event, held in Bristol last Saturday, was taken extremely seriously by organisers.
Spectators queued up to pay a £3 entrance fee to watch the indoor matches – at Bristol City Football Club’s Ashton Gate ground.
Bookmakers were even on hand to take bets from fans for each of the 15-minute-a-half games.
Eight of the world’s best players took part in the event – from Spain, Italy, Belgium, Wales, Portugal, Holland and Austria.
But Clarke beat the cream of the world’s elite players to reach the final.
The match, deadlocked at 1-1, went all the way to penalties after Clarke replied to Nastasi’s first half opener five minutes from the end.
In a highly charged penalty shoot-out, Clarke held his nerve to beat the former world champion in sudden death.
The tournament was dreamt up by Kaspar Bennett, from Totterdown, Bristol – a former Subbuteo World Cup Finalist.
The 25-year-old said: ”I had the idea back in 2007 when I played in the World Cup Finals.
”Although I was the runner-up and so close to winning, I walked away with nothing.
”I had put in a lot of effort and trained for months to get to the World Cup and I felt I should have been in with a chance winning a cash prize.
”After all, the top players in almost every other sport are rewarded financially in one way or another.
”So I thought I would try to develop a tournament that takes the world’s top Subbuteo players a bit more seriously.
”I’m so happy for Darren having seen him so close to success in past majors and world cups.”
World number one Carlos Flores, of Spain, had been favourite for the cup after scoring 39 goals at the 2010 World Cup in Germany.
Welsh hopes were dashed in the first knock-out round with Phillip Dacey losing to one time Dutch World Champion Eric Verhagen 6-1.
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