Mason’s England hopes dashed by coronavirus

A FORMER Mossley goalkeeper’s hopes of making his England debut have been dashed by coronavirus.But disappointed Cameron Mason has been assured the England ‘C’ international against Wales will be rearranged.

Mason, who played four games on loan for the Seel Park club from Curzon Ashton in 2017, had been preparing to play for the England non-league team against Wales at Caernarfon on Tuesday, March 24.

The 24-year-old from Grotton, who plays for Curzon Ashton in National League North, said: “Being selected was a very proud moment for me, my family and friends.

“And even more so because most of the players selected were from the league above (National League) and are full-time professionals.

“There was only me and three others who are not full-time.”

Mason, who only trains two nights each week, is a mechanic at the Skoda dealership in Rochdale.

The England call-up was one of several momentous events for Mason, a former pupil at St Anne’s, Lydgate, and Saddleworth School.

Mason was asked to be the goalkeeper as new Manchester United loan striker Odion Ighalo performed some finishing drills.

He added: “United were on their winter break when they signed Ighalo who wanted a goalkeeper for a private training session.

“It was surreal as it didn’t take place at United’s Carrington training complex but on a public Astroturf pitch which was hired in Manchester.

“It was a great experience and good to challenge myself. It showed me the difference in class between players in National League North and the Premier League.”

Ighalo, 30, played for Nigeria in the 2018 finals of the World Cup and was top scorer in the 2019 African Cup of Nations when they finished third.

He has been loaned from Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua until the end of the season, having previously played for top Italian club Udinese, Spanish side Granada and Watford in the Premier League.

Mason was also one of three goalkeepers to be asked to take part in a Football Association coach the coaches training course which was held at Carrington. One of the others was Oliver Martin, another former Mossley stopper.

He was working with former Manchester City and Republic of Ireland keeper Shay Given and Manchester United’s Lee Grant while spectating were United’s David De Gea and Sergio Romero.

“When I look back, the last few months have been crazy, but they have provided me with great experiences,” he said.

Mason, who is on the darts team at Diggle Band Club, only began playing football in his early teens when he was scouted for Blackburn Rovers’ shadow academy squad during a game for Saddleworth School.

He was later in the academy at Oldham Athletic and served an apprenticeship at Chesterfield.

After being released by the Spireites, he spent six months in Australia where he played semi-professional.

For the last six years, however, he has been at Curzon playing part-time while carving out a career as a car mechanic.

He added the standard in National League North is high as eight former Football League clubs are in the division.

Curzon are the smallest club in the division in terms of crowds and resources.

Mason said: “A lot of people have the mentality we are a small club, but we keep proving them wrong.

“Only recently we drew against big hitters York and Boston, two former Football League clubs, who were first and fourth in the league.

“I genuinely believe we are not far away from being a threat in our league.”

Mason – who still watches Mossley, where his good friend John Holden is a committee man – admitted he still harbours a dream of returning to full-time professional football.

He said: “If somebody comes knocking at the our and, if everything is right, I would definitely take it.

“I am fortunate I am a contracted player at Curzon, but you never know what might happen at this level.

“You are naïve if you think it will last forever and you need a back-up plan which is why I became a mechanic.”

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