A SATELLITE engineer from Wick described his ‘one-in-a-million’ moment playing alongside England football legend Ian Wright at Wembley as ‘unforgettable’.
Paul Hodder, of Sandfield Avenue, was one of a just a handful of people to win the chance to play next to the former Arsenal star during a special game last Tuesday.
The match was organised by Wright to mark his final game. As part of the day, called #OneMoreGame, he hand picked a team from his one million Twitter followers to join him.
Speaking of his Wembley experience, lucky father-of-three, Paul, 32, said: “It was the most surreal feeling in the world. You are just like a kid in a sweet shop.
“Three days before we were there they were playing the FA Cup semi-finals, with players from Liverpool and Arsenal standing in the same spots as us. It was incredible.”
Paul was revealed as one of the lucky few over Twitter about seven months ago.
“In half-an-hour my phone almost melted with all the tweets congratulating me, saying I’d won. I was shocked.”Paul Hodder
“There was a one-in-a-million chance of being picked,” said Paul, an avid Manchester United fan. “So I really didn’t think I’d get picked.”
He said the Gunners icon sent out a tweet to his followers asking which position they played in.
“I just said I was a defender,” recounted Paul. “In half-an-hour my phone almost melted with all the tweets congratulating me, saying I’d won. I was shocked.”
Paul explained that he even had the chance to play alongside his childhood hero and former Chelsea centre-back, Michael Duberry.
As a boy, Paul used to take memorable trips up to Standford Bridge with his football-mad grandad, Brian Hodder, to watch Chelsea play.
He added: “I had gone from the boy that wanted his autograph to passing to him and playing alongside him at Wembley!”
Paul’s team won in a thrilling 3-2 victory, with Wright poking in the winning goal ten minutes from time.
“When he scored we all celebrated by bundling him,” said Paul.
In spite of all the celebrations, Paul did regret that his grandad – who died just four months before the big match – couldn’t be there to see it.
“He would have loved to have seen it,” Paul added. “He would have been the first person I picked to take along. He would have been as proud as anything.”
Paul has been more used to playing on the local stage, with his past teams including Littlehampton Football Club, Angmering Football Club, and more recently Clymping Football Club, retiring from Clymping FC’s reserve team late last year.
His Wembley experience was arranged by Ball Street and Vauxhall England.