Old boys are world’s best

England old boys are world champions
England old boys are world champions
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England are celebrating World Cup glory before a ball has been kicked in Brazil.

A squad of former players, including three who used to wear the Preston shirt, helped England lift the Seniors World Cup in Thailand.

In soaring temperatures, the veterans dragged their legs through five games in six days to win the tournament.

The ex-North End players in the England squad were Dean Barrick, Gareth Ainsworth and goalkeeper Barry Richardson.

Ainsworth, who has three spells with PNE, finished as England’s top scorer with five goals.

Left-back Barrick, part of the Preston side which won the Third Division title in 1996, was skipper for the semi-final win over Iran. Richardson, who was PNE keeper during John Beck’s reign, featured in all the World Cup games.

They beat Taiwan and USA and drew with Thailand to win their group. In the semi-final, England beat Iran 2-1 with Ainsworth on target.

Their opponents in the final were Scotland, a feisty clash ending in a 2-2 after the Scots levelled in stoppage-time.

England held their nerve in the penalty shoot-out to win 5-3. Paul Bell, manager of the England side, said: “All three ex-Preston players played a major role in our success.

“They were thrilled and honoured to be wearing the England shirt.”