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Stuart Broad cherishing opportunity to wear an England shirt again at Soccer Aid

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Apr 2024

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Stuart Broad is cherishing the opportunity to pull on an England shirt again at Soccer Aid almost a year on from a fairy-tale finish to his cricket career.

Broad bowed out last summer in memorable fashion, clinching a Test victory over Ashes rivals Australia with his final delivery before retirement.

Now, after throwing himself into a life of fatherhood and television punditry, he is ready to rewind the clock for one night only, donning Three Lions once more after signing up as part of Harry Redknapp’s England XI at UNICEF’s annual charity football match.

Despite exiting elite sport on the crest of a wave, a feat all too few achieve, this ardent Nottingham Forest fan cannot hide his enthusiasm to head back into battle for his country at Stamford Bridge on June 9.

“To put on an England shirt again, even if it’s not a cricket one, will feel pretty cool,” he told the PA news agency.

“I’ve no doubt I’ll have that competitive spirit back. I don’t think it ever leaves you. I’m at peace with the way I finished at The Oval, if I tried to play another 100 games I’d never get that high again, and I achieved my goal of finishing on my own terms rather than being told by a coach or selector that time was up.

“I didn’t leave with any bitterness, just brilliant memories. But one of the things I’ve noticed from stepping away from the game is how little you realise about the pressure you’re really under.

“It can be quite addictive, that feeling of being under pressure to perform. Soccer Aid is all about raising money and awareness for UNICEF and what it does for children all over the world, but whenever you put a professional sportsperson on a field those competitive juices flow.”

The 37-year-old is ready to embrace that familiar feeling as he eyes up a place in Redknapp’s defensive line. Broad made a handsome career as a fast bowler but he plans to pit himself one on one with an opponent who really cornered the market when it comes to speed.

“I’ve been playing five-a-side on Monday nights, but it’s a little bit of a step up marking Usain Bolt,” he said.

“I saw Harry and he told me ‘I’ve heard Usain has a bit of pace’, so I’ll need to work on that high line. I’d probably class it as diving in at the deep end, playing at the Bridge in front of a full house, live on TV, with some of the world’s best talent.

“It’s not doing things by halves. I’m looking to present myself as a no-nonsense centre-back, win my aerial battles and if I get in trouble just kick it out. I might wear a Forest under-shirt to keep the passion up.”

While Broad does not feel any pangs of regret about his retirement he admits the start of England’s Test summer could be a challenge to his equilibrium. He has no immediate plans to fill the void by stepping into any formal coaching role but is enthusiastic about working with the next generation and sharing his experience.

“I’ve not massively missed the playing side yet but seeing the England lads walk out at Lord’s or the Test at Trent Bridge, that will probably be the time I go, ‘Wow, I don’t do this anymore’,” he said.

“If you go straight into (full-time) coaching, you’re almost travelling more than the players, but I want to stay part of the game. I’ve gathered a lot of knowledge over my time playing 167 Test matches and I want to share that with people. The exciting thing for me is talking to bowlers at the start of their journey…if they can take five per cent from me that grows them as bowlers, that’s great.

“Whether I do that by stepping back in at grassroots level with Nottinghamshire, or speaking to the England Under-19s, it’s just about getting the knowledge I gained from 20 years of playing out of my brain and into theirs.”

:: Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2024 takes place on 9th June at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, with tickets available at www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets

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