Delivery driver Matt Crossen, who works for Asda, Walmart’s retail business in the U.K., is in Rio to play football – aka soccer – in the Paralympics.
Matt had a stroke in 2013 when he was a fit 23-year-old, working as a consultant at a gym and playing semi-professional football for Britain’s Marske United team. The stroke affected his speech and mobility, but after six days in the hospital and several months of rehab, he was back playing football.
“I’m 95% of the way there with my speech, I have no problems with driving, and most importantly I’m back playing football too,” Matt said.
Because he suffered a brain injury, he became eligible for selection for the England squad at the Cerebral Palsy World Championships last year.
He played a starring role in the squad which came fifth – the best result in England’s history – and scored a stunning goal in the team’s final match.
Matt attended a training camp at the National Football Centre, St George’s Park in Burton, England, before flying to Rio at the end of August.
"I’m proud as punch to be representing Great Britain at the Paralympics,” he said. “It’s a real honor. My section manager, Dean, and everyone at Asda have been really supportive.
“It’s amazing to have so many well-wishers here at work, both colleagues and customers on the delivery route,” he continued. “If we win, I’ll be wearing my medal when I get back to the day job! It’s been quite a journey for me, but when I walk out to play against Brazil, the host country, in Rio, it will have been worth it. All of the other teams we will be playing against are full-time professionals, but we have a good squad and I think we can push for medals.”
Dean Holliday, Matt’s supervisor and an eCommerce Trading Manager, said: "Matt joined the team in January. When I interviewed him, he mentioned he played football but not that he had played at international level! He’s been a great addition to the team, he works hard, is great with customers and is a good laugh. He’s worked really hard to get through what happened to him, and it’s a fantastic honor for him and the store and we all want to wish him and the GB team all the very best for the Paralympics.”
The Paralympics begin in Rio today.