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Norfolk pride for England footballer

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:33 12 July 2010

It was almost 20 years ago that a young Matthew Upson bombed down the left wing as a junior player for his home town club.

But after beginning his quest for sporting glory on the Brewers Green Lane pitch at Diss, the Norfolk-raised footballer is set to feature in one of the world's biggest events at the weekend .

It was almost 20 years ago that a young Matthew Upson bombed down the left wing as a junior player for his home town club.

But after beginning his quest for sporting glory on the Brewers Green Lane pitch at Diss, the Norfolk-raised footballer is set to feature in one of the world's biggest events at the weekend .

His family spoke of their pride last night as they looked forward to the 31-year-old playing in his first World Cup.

All eyes will be on the former Diss High School pupil on Saturday when his friends and relatives hope to see the West Ham and England defender in Fabio Capello's starting XI in South Africa.

The footballer, who grew up in the south Norfolk market town, first set his heart on becoming a professional player when he was 12, and was handed an academy place with Luton Town just days after his 16th birthday.

Big money moves to Arsenal, Birmingham City, and West Ham followed along with international caps with the under 18s, under 21s, and senior squads. But the World Cup will represent the highlight of his career, especially if the men wearing Three Lions come home with a trophy after the final on July 11.

His parents, Richard and Susan Upson, who are preparing to fly out to South Africa to watch their son play in the tournament, said they were looking forward to the tournament.

Mr Upson, who is a former secretary of Diss Town Football Club, said his son's international debut was against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in 2003 and the omens were good that he would play some part in his country's World Cup campaign.

“Four years ago he set himself a target to be part of the World Cup squad. That is what he worked towards and he has achieved that and fulfilled his ambition. Everybody in the squad has a chance of playing, it is a long tournament and the games come thick and fast and I am sure he will have an opportunity to play,” he said.

Mr Upson, who has been speaking to his son on a daily basis since he jetted to England's South African training camp last week, added: “The atmosphere is good. It is a World Cup and everyone is buzzing and looking forward to the first game on Saturday and they are training hard.”

“We have always been very proud of all our family's achievements and obviously Matthew has set himself personal targets and we are delighted that he is doing that.”

The England No15, who has won 19 caps with his senior national side, began playing as a left sided forward in his youth team days, but moved to central defence as he matured. He played a handful of games for the Diss Town under 18 side before getting a full-time contract with Luton Town.

Tony Collins, Diss Town FC press officer, added that the whole club was behind their former player, who attended the youth team's awards ceremony last month .


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