ECCLESHILL United boss Lee Elam has helped England Veterans to their 7th Seniors World Cup after they defeated New Zealand 1-0 in last Saturday’s final.

The Three Lions overcame Australia, Vietnam and Thailand in the group stage to book their semi-final spot, drawing their opener (0-0) before beating their latter two opponents 3-0 and 2-1 respectively.

A 1-0 victory over Iran in the semi-final, last year’s finalists, was enough to see England through to the final where tournament hero Steve Jones scored the winning goal against New Zealand.

Elam, who has now returned from Thailand as a Seniors World Cup champion for a second year running, said: “It was another great experience in Thailand, and I thoroughly enjoyed being out there with the lads.

“Of course, being crowned winners make it that extra special, and overall, I think we deserved it.

“We might not have been firing on all cylinders across the tournament, but we played some good football and Steve Jones (former Burnley player) was on hand to provide a killer instinct for us at the right end of the pitch.

“These are memories that will last a lifetime.”

Lee Elam (centre) is a Seniors World Cup champion once again Lee Elam (centre) is a Seniors World Cup champion once again (Image: England Veterans)

It’s the 7th time that England have won the Seniors World Cup, two of them titles coming in the last two years; Elam playing his part in both.

Reflecting on the level of competition this year, he said: “It was a challenge because I feel like the standard went up even further this year.

“We drew 0-0 with Australia in the first group match and, yes, we might have been adapting to the humidity and heat at that stage of the tournament, but it was clear to see that they were a very good side anyway.

“Things started to click for us in the games against Vietnam and Thailand, and then the semi-final and final were always going to be challenging games; we’d played against Iran in last year’s final, so we knew their level.

“It was a nice feeling to get over the line and get another trophy with this group of players.”

It was a short turnaround between the five matches, with a day or two between each fixture and Elam admitted that it didn’t leave the group with much time to properly explore their home base in Thailand.

He said: “There wasn’t much downtime as we were in-between the matches and various sessions and recovery.

“However, we arrived in Thailand a few days earlier to acclimatize to the conditions and there we played a warm-up match, and that period gave us a bit of time to get to know the new teammates and go out and socialise.

“We also had a day off in Bangkok and we went to the local schools to do a bit of coaching; we played a match with the students there and we were able to offer them kits which was nice. It was an enjoyable experience.”

Elam added: “I always enjoy coming to the Seniors World Cup with the England Veterans as each trip offers something different and new.

“Hopefully, I’ll be called up again for next year’s squad.”