IT’S not every day you meet one of England’s World Cup winners. Rarer still is for that football icon to shower you with praise as you win a national award.
But that’s exactly what happened to Allan Lambourne when he headed to Wembley Stadium for Sunday’s Community Shield.
The Selsey FC stalwart was named coach of the year in the FA community awards for his contribution to grass-roots football in Sussex and was handed the gong by the man whose hat-trick won the famous 1966 final for England.
The FA and McDonalds awards recognise and celebrate volunteers, coaches and clubs who keep football alive in their communities.
Since retiring from playing himself, Lambourne has been a coach at under-11 level and his fun and engaging training sessions have seen attendance figures rise dramatically.
He is also responsible for an influx of new coaches at Selsey, many of them parents who have been motivated to take coaching courses after seeing him in action.
Lambourne has been a pioneer for girls’ football at the club, which is seeing an ever increasing amount of new participants.
He has also inspired his own children Chloe and Callum to take up coaching.
At Wembley, he was honoured in a ceremony presented by Ed Chamberlain of Sky Sports.
He received his award in front of footballing legends such as Ray Parlour, Dietmar Hamann and Pat Jennings before Arsenal beat Manchester City to lift the Community Shield.
At half-time, Lambourne was introduced to the 71,523 crowd and received a generous applause for his efforts. He watched the match from the FA Club seats.
Sir Geoff said: “Allan embodies the spirit of grass-roots football. The vast number of hours he has dedicated and the popularity of his coaching sessions are testament to why this award is tremendously deserved.
“It’s people like Allan at a grass-roots level that our national game relies upon week in week out. Without their commitment, young footballers in this country couldn’t continue to grow and flourish. It was a pleasure to meet Allan on Sunday to give him my congratulations on winning the award.”