DAVE Clarke brought the curtain down on his illustrious five-a-side football career in fine style at the weekend.
Hindley-based Clarke, aged 41, scored Great Britain’s second goal – the 128th of his career – in a 2-0 win over Turkey on Saturday to celebrate the host nation’s first win of these Games and an amazing 145th and final cap for the skipper.
It was divine retribution for Clarke, who missed the crucial penalty in GB’s previous match with China and the perfect way to end an international career that has seen him feature at five World Cups, three Paralympic Games and amass more goals that Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker put together.
On paper, Great Britain would appear to have under-performed at London 2012, finishing seventh compared to coming fifth at Beijing 2008, but Clarke is adamant that doesn’t tell the full story, claiming he leaves the blind football set-up in this country in good hands.
“There aren’t going to be many people who finish seventh in these Paralympics in a team sport who can say they drew three, lost one and won one and ended with a positive goal difference,” said Clarke, who carried the torch at the Opening Ceremony.
“That tells me if you compare it with the five goals scored, 16 let in in Beijing and the four losses and the one win, that tells me, factually, that we’ve moved on with the tremendous support of the FA and our coaching staff and all around us.
“The kids coming through are brilliant – they don’t need me standing in their way. Secondly, my family have given up an awful lot to let me do this. “The fundamental reason for giving up is that the building blocks are there now to move forward and perhaps four years ago they weren’t there – and I don’t ever want to have that conversation where someone says, ‘Dave, you know what, you’re in the way now, you’re not good enough’.
“There’s always that tinge of what could have been, we know how close we were to be playing this afternoon and being involved in the real games, but I will leave here with some phenomenal memories.”