Football

Former Grenadier Guard Wins FA Disability Cup On Penalties

Peterborough United's player-coach and former soldier Mark Smith lifted the trophy after winning 6-5 on penalties.

A former Grenadier Guard has won the 2021 FA Disability Cup after a penalty shoot-out victory in the final.

The televised final at St George's Park on Sunday between the Peterborough United Amputee team and Portsmouth went to spot-kicks after the match finished goalless in both normal and extra time.

A 6-5 victory in the shoot-out meant Mark Smith's Peterborough took the trophy.

Nearly 10 years ago, he was shot six times in the right leg on a training exercise in Canada, resulting in a leg amputation.

"When I was laying in hospital having just had my leg amputated, it wasn't even so much that I was now an amputee," said the former Grenadier Guard. "The thing that upset me the most laying there was the thought that I might never play football again.

"I can still vividly remember the very last time I played as an able-bodied footballer and I remember that every time I get to play with these lads.

"I never knew that that would be the last time I'd get to play, so now I treat every time we play amputee football as the last time I might ever play, and that's added a whole other level of enthusiasm to the sport."

WATCH: Before the final, Forces News caught up with Smith to discuss his military career and the cup final.

During his time in the Army, the service's football association helped Smith gain coaching badges – resulting in the coaching role he has taken up with Peterborough.

He says he was inspired as soon as he saw the amputee version of the sport.

He said: "With veterans, I think there's a big stigma around being on crutches, it's seen as a backwards step being off your prosthetic."

But, he says, once players have experienced "how much freer you feel" and "the speed you can pick up" without their prosthetics they understand the use of crutches.

"The very first time I played, I was absolutely in awe of everybody around me.

"I'd never seen anyone go that quick on a set of crutches and do the things they can do with a football.

"I was inspired by how talented they were," he added.

Cover image: Mark Smith's Peterborough United team won the 2021 FA Disability Cup on penalties (Picture: Lloyd Jones/LAJ Photography).