BLAIR Glynn was 11 years old when his life changed. It was a normal day; he was out with his family and playing at the park, the same as many other children.

Then, in less than a second, a vein in his neck “bent over” and he suffered a stroke. “I ended up in intensive care and was in hospital for about three months and needed to learn to walk and talk again”, Glynn, 36, told The National.

“I was also right-handed so had to learn with my left. If you ask my mum or dad, they will say I had a chip on my shoulder but I wasn’t sure who or what I was angry at. That’s when I found football.”

The National: Blair GlynnBlair Glynn (Image: Newsquest)

Specifically, he found the Scotland National Cerebral Palsy (CP) Football Team. Last year was a successful one for the team following their run to the final of the World Championships and the launch of a new development squad.

Glynn, from Tranent in East Lothian, said: “Since I was four or five, I had been playing every weekend but then I was only managing to get 10 minutes in here and there.

“I was looking for Scotland tickets and I saw a bit talking about disability. I discovered the CP squad and somebody was sent to see me and I was invited. That was 12 years ago and it was as if that chip on my shoulder just disappeared.”

Also a member of the team is Matthew Wynne, 21, from Glasgow, who was diagnosed with CP when he was just two months old.

He’s currently a sports science student at the University of the West of Scotland as well as a coach for Mini Kickers – football lessons for those aged three to five. “It’s not a word I usually use, but the team has such a good and positive vibe to it,” he said. “Everyone is looking happy and forward to what the future holds”.

Wynne’s journey to the CP football squad started at school, mainly because he was just keen for a day off. He said: “I think it was my second year of high school. My principal approached me and an opportunity arose to go to a Paralympic pathway event. He was aware I had CP and asked if I would be up for going.

“I was just thinking it was a sport-filled day out of school and nothing that would progress. There were different sports to participate in and I took along my football boots. After the session, I was approached by a guy in a Scotland tracksuit asking if I played for a team and if I played regularly.

“He asked if I’d be up for coming to CP. At the age of 12 or 13 I wasn’t sure what that meant but it was a proper set-up, everything was professional and everyone had the proper attire.”

Both Glynn and Wynne say that although their condition does impact the way they play, it isn’t something they take note of too much.

Glynn explained: “For me specifically, it affects my brain so I’m maybe two to three seconds slower. If I think I should be somewhere you’ll see me thinking first and then moving. I get a little bit slower as the game goes on so we tend to concede more goals towards the end of the game.”

For Wynne, having had CP since birth, he says he’s “never really known anything else” and so can’t reference how those without the condition play the game.

He added: “All through my life up until this opportunity with CP, I played mainstream sport so all my teams were able-bodied and it was evident as I got older that it was difficult to keep up with the other boys and the opponents.”

If there’s one element of it all that stands out for both men though, it’s the opportunity to represent their country on the world stage.

“To me it’s mentally and physically amazing, it helps me to be there for my children and help them to further their goals as well, it just really helps,” Glynn said.

He added: “To play in the World Championships is amazing – just to get out and feel what it’s like to represent your country.”

Wynne said: “I never imagined I’d be able to do it but as most people say, the biggest privilege you can have at a young age is to represent your country. The fact I was a captain during the World Championships is one of the best stories I’ll ever have.”

The next big step for the team is the 2023 Men’s European Championships which kicks off in Italy in May.