Paralympic goalkeeper Billy Thompson has a secret weapon to help him claim Great Britain’s No 1 shirt at London 2012 this summer – England keeper Robert Green, writes Nicolas Atkin.
The 28-year-old from Croydon recently had a training session with the West Ham stopper, England’s back-up keeper at the European Championships, as he prepares to fight it out with Craig Connell to be GB’s man between the sticks at the Paralympics.
Last week, he was part of the squad that won silver at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, losing 4-2 against Brazil in the final, and Thompson, who trains at Whyteleafe FC, hopes the tips from Green can make him a better keeper.
“I had a training session with Robert and I’ve taken a lot from that,” he said.
“I am using visualisation techniques now since I talked to him, as he said ‘Try visualising the game before you go into it’.
“It was a brilliant day out and I can’t thank West Ham enough.
“Craig and I are fighting it out for the right to start so I’m always ready to come on if I’m on the bench, anything can happen.
“I can take what I’ve learned from playing Brazil and put it into the next game.
“It will be a bigger stadium and a bigger crowd, we’ll be trying to feed off that by the time 2012 comes about.
“We’re going to use home advantage massively if we can, we’ve got to.”
In the round robin stage of the World Cup, Britain beat USA 7-0 but lost to Republic of Ireland 7-3 and Brazil 4-2.
Thompson only received his first England call-up a year ago but has already been selected for Team GB at the Paralympics, not that he is letting his meteoric rise go to his head.
“It is a major honour for me to be selected for the Paralympics,” he added.
“For me it is still a bit weird to think where I am now.
“I never thought a year ago I would be anywhere near being involved, and I was just over the moon to train.
“To make the squad is even more special. For me, it is all still new and I am trying to keep it in the back of my mind until it comes about.
“Friends and family talk it up, it is the Paralympics and they ask how you think you will do, but we can only go out there and do the best we possibly can.”
The BT Paralympic World Cup took place in Manchester from May 22-26 with elite international athletes competing in athletics, football 7-a-side and wheelchair basketball. Go to btparalympicworldcup.com for more information.