'A massive thing!'

'A massive thing!'

Fuller says twilight heroics for Hanley Town result of undying passion for game

Observer writer

Friday, September 25, 2020

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An elated Ricardo Fuller, who came off the bench to score the winner in the FA Cup qualifying round for Hanley Town on Tuesday, said his passion for the game is a strong as ever at 40 years old.

Fuller, who retired from professional football in 2016, came out of retirement last year for Nantwich Town, and this season he signed for Hanley Town, a small club in the Stoke City area where he is considered a legend.

The former Jamaican international told the Jamaica Observer his heroics that led Hanley Town to a come-from-behind 3-2 win in the English FA Cup win over Redditch Town was a massive performance by his new club.

“I feel very much elated, and as you know the FA Cup games are knockout games; you lose, you out; you win, you progress,” he pointed out.

He continued: “So it's a massive thing and a massive thing for Hanley Town as well, being a ninth-tier non-league club and whose chairman wants to do massive things for the club and the area.”

Fuller entered the game with his team trailing 1-2 and he emerged the hero tucking away an 85th minute penalty in their 3-2 win to progress to the next round of the world-famous FA Cup.

“It's a massive result for us and it was very nice for me to come off the bench and make a difference. I came off the bench when we were 2-1 down, then got back on equal terms at 2-2, then played my part in sealing the win with the penalty,” he told the Observer.

Fuller started his football career at Camperdown High and Tivoli Gardens FC before he moved to England with Crystal Palace in 2001. He returned to Jamaica and then went on loan to Scottish club Hearts before joining Preston Northend, scoring 27 goals in 58 league games.

He then represented Portsmouth and Southampton before signing for Stoke City in 2006 where he really left his mark. He played a tremendous role as Stoke City gained promotion to the Premier League in 2008 and reached the FA Cup final three years later in 2011.

Fuller scored nine goals in 72 matches for Jamaica before retiring and is now pursuing his coaching badge.

“As you know, for some time now, I ought to finish my UEFA B Coaching Badge and move into the stage of some coaching role, but that wasn't to be, obviously, with the pandemic because everything has been put on hold,” said Fuller.

“Hanley Town chairman reached out to me through various people and we met and he showed me the project, and I said why not,” he added.

“Stoke is my home away from home being a past Jamaican international living in England for the last 21 years. The fans are very fond of me, knowing that I was a massive part of Stoke City and we achieved a lot of good things,” he reiterated.

“So Hanley Town is basically an offset of Stoke City, in terms of the same set of fans that support the clubs around the area,” Fuller noted.

“I am best when I am on the football field, and that's where my love is, along with my family and kids. My next best thing is playing football, no matter if it is scrimmage, five-a-side, Premier League or Championship or it's the ninth-tier football, I have the same love and passion and will to win, want to win [and] hard work will apply no joke,” said Fuller.

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