"They did the country proud!"
Irish amputee soccer team captain Simon Baker summed up the mood yesterday after the first amputee international soccer tournament was held in the country.
The historic, two-day Paddy Power Cup, held at the University of Limerick over the weekend, saw 116 players battle it out from England, Germany, Holland, Poland, Belgium, and hosts Ireland.
Despite missing out on a place in the semi-final after losing 6-0 to England and 3-0 to Poland, Ireland kept pride in the camp with a classy display against Belgium, coming out 2-0 victors.
"England hadn’t conceded a goal in the tournament, that’s why they’re rated fifth in the whole world," said Mr Baker.
However, the English man who lives in Limerick said he was proud to have worn the green jersey.
"The tournament was all about promoting our game and we’ve done that. Now we build on our performances for the World Cup next year in Mexico," said Mr Baker, who is chairman of the Irish Amputee Football Association.
He said history was made twice in the tournament: The first international amputee soccer cup to be held in Ireland, "and it was the first time the lads had put on the official Irish gear", he added.
Mr Baker hopes to bring about a bid for bringing the Amputee World Cup to Ireland.
"Hopefully, we’ll build to Mexico next year, and hopefully we will put a team together of experts to work on a programme for our own bid for the World Cup," he said.
"We’ve received fantastic support. We started with five lads in 2012. Now we’ve a full squad of players, and a product we can work with. We have experts working with us on fitness and psychology.
"It’s been amazing for us to do this."
Mr Baker said the cost of putting together a World Cup bid was about €100,000. However, he believes he has the support of key investors to realise the dream.
The competition would be a massive money-spinner, with 30 countries taking part in the 10-day tournament.