Former Royal Navy sailor-turned-footballer Chris 'Kammy' Kamara has given his thoughts on how the World Cup in Russia is shaping up ahead of England's second group stage game against Panama.

The Middlesborough-born Kamara told Forces Radio BFBS presenter Hal Stewart about his Navy experience and how his well-charted professional playing and managerial career nearly never happened - a story not everyone might have heard.

The football pundit talked to Hal Steward amid the excitement of the World Cup, with the England national football team making an encouraging start to the finals in Russia, beating Tunisia 2-1 in their opening group match in Volgograd.

Kamara is a proud Englishman and although the former Stoke, Leeds and Sheffield United defender never represented his country, he has been a regular on TV and Radio, covering the national side.

England football fans

However, Kamara's passion for football risked being nipped in the bud when he joined the Royal Navy as a teenager on the insistence of his former Navy-serving father, Albert.

He said he had a chance to be an apprentice at Middlesborough Football Club at a youngster – but that his father was ‘totally against it’ and made his brother join the Army on leaving school, before making Kammy himself sign up for the Royal Navy.

That could have been the end of his footballing dreams but, undeterred, he ended up playing for the Royal Navy's football team. He trained at HMS Raleigh at Torpoint then later transferred to HMS Vernon.

He is still as passionate today about his support for our Armed Forces (particularly the Navy) and shared with Hal the fact that he does as much as he can to offer his support, whenever he can.

"They get in touch with me from time to time to send stuff for them to put in the Mess or whatever while they're away at Sea."

He said he wants to head out to Russia to watch England if they progress to the later stages of the World Cup tournament but said he has not taken up the offer of punditry work thus far after a promise he made to his wife.

The footballer told how he saw examples of violence in France when he was covering an England match in the country back in 2016 vs Russia, and this made him promise his partner that he would not go to this World Cup.

However, he said he had only promised not to go to the country during the group stages.

The old Senior Service mindset is clearly still there, he's desperate to support his nation, to back the lads in Russia and to roar England on to only their second ever World Cup victory (the first having come in 1966 when the World Cup was on home soil).

Speaking about how this passion is echoed by those currently serving, Kammy said:

"I know what they'll be like. I know what the lads are like. I know how passionate they are about their Country, they wouldn't be in the Royal Navy if they weren't."

Kamara may well be in Russia watching from the stands before the month of June is out, if England can beat Panama on Sunday - the question is will you be joining him?

Get in the festive football mood by listening to Hal Stewart's full interview with Kammy taken from the Totally Connected show on Forces Radio BFBS on Friday 22nd June. You can hear Totally Connected each and every weekday 10am-1pm UK time across the globe.

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