A retired headteacher from Wirral has been selected to play for England in a unique football match for players over the age of 70.

St George’s Park, The FA’s National Football Centre, will host the first ever NHS Challenge Trophy match, played between footballers aged 70 and above, on Thursday September 23.

England will take on Wales for cup glory in a game that showcases and reflects on the links between football, physical exercise and many elements of health in senior adults.

Mike Unwin, 70 from West Kirby, was one of several keen amateur footballers who went through their paces to be picked for the final line-up. The match will be officiated by former Premier league referee Dermot Gallagher.

Mike, who was headteacher at Devonshire Park Primary School in Tranmere, said: “My Involvement with the England team started in April when I received a call from a friend, Dennis Evans, who had been representing England for at least 10 years and wanted to know if I was still playing.”

Wirral Globe: The NHS Challenge Trophy will be hosted at St George's Park on September 23The NHS Challenge Trophy will be hosted at St George's Park on September 23

After that first conversation with Dennis, who lives in Liverpool, Mike, who also enjoys playing tennis and golf, cycling and skiing, was on his way.

“I suddenly found myself travelling weekly to Loughborough for three weeks of trials and then I was chosen and played my first full England game against a well-respected Chesterfield side, whom we beat 5-2.

“I owe great thanks to Dennis - he has been a real friend helping me through the various challenges.”

Mike, an Evertonian adds: “I hadn’t realised that there were national amateur England teams for several age-groups from over-45s through to over-65s.”

The over-70s team is a new development, led by England’s representative Player/Manager Ken Pollock, who has worked over many years to organise fixtures, selection and co-ordinate players from Newcastle down to the South-West.

Ahead of the big game, Ken said: “The recent pandemic has shown the importance of physical fitness, as statistically exercise has been a preventative and curative agent for older people.

“To mark this, we have called the cup The NHS Challenge Trophy, to reflect our gratitude for their work over the last 18 months. Attending the game, we are lucky enough to have the Shannons (John senior and John junior) a father and son, aged 104 and 79 respectively, watching and playing.

"There is no finer testament to the benefits of our game than can be found in their match day attendance.”

The match will be played at one of St. George’s Park’s stunning indoor pitches at 2pm on Thursday, September 23.

For more information, visit: www.thefa.com/st-georges-park