EXCLUSIVE: How I went from March footballer to England futsal star in three years
PUBLISHED: 08:30 16 March 2012
WHEN Sam Murphy attended his first training session at the University of Brighton two years ago, he had never heard of futsal.
But this week, the 22-year-old from March toasted his 11th England cap and his second international goal.
Murphy has shot to stardom in the fast-paced sport - a variation of football played on an indoor pitch with a smaller ball.
He has travelled to France, Spain and Latvia to represent his country and he also plays alongside a host of continental stars for London-based club champions Helvecia.
He said: “I turned up to that first training session not knowing anything about the sport. I never thought that a few months down the line I would be pulling on an England shirt.
• Futsal is played indoors on a hard court surface. The ball used is smaller and slightly heavier than a normal football while the goals are hockey-sized.
• Teams are made up of five players - four outfield and one goalkeeper - but squads can be as large as 14. There are unlimited substitutions.
• A standard match consists of two halves of 20 minutes. The clock is stopped whenever the ball goes out of play.
• The high-tempo nature of the sport means strong technique, movement, tactical awareness and fitness are particularly important.
• Futsal originated in Uruguay, in 1930, and was devised as a version of football to be used for competitions in YMCAs. It merges the Spanish words for football, “futbol”, and hall, “sala”.
• FIFA took over as the governing body of the sport in 1989. The first FIFA Futsal World Championships took place the same year in the Netherlands.
• The FA have run England’s National Futsal Leagues since 2008. The league’s grand finals are due to be held in May.
“It’s everyone’s dream to represent their country. When you walk into the changing room before a game and see all the England shirts hanging up on the pegs, the feeling is just unbelievable.
“I also scored in France in front of 2,500 people - that was a bit of an experience!”
Murphy is a former member of Peterborough United and Cambridge United football academies. He played a season for March Town United three years ago.
He was scouted by England Futsal Head Coach Peter Sturgess while playing for his university and made his debut against Montenegro last year.
The former Neale-Wade Community College student, who scored in England’s win over Switzerland at the weekend, said: “Players like Ronaldinho and Robinho didn’t play football from an early age - they played futsal.
“It’s massive in countries like Brazil and Portugal but it’s growing over here and the national side is starting to get more recognition.
“It’s strange because I’m just a normal university student who has ended up playing for England.
“All my mates give me banter for being big time and bringing home England shirts. I just try not to get carried away with it.”
Murphy, who has been competing at the University Futsal Championships this week, is hoping to play a part in England’s friendly with Denmark in May.