A TRAUMA unit doctor who helps save lives at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital is a proud World Cup winner.

Dr Matthew Willett was a promising defender for Oxford United’s youth team but cut short his dream to follow in the footsteps of his dad Keith, the National Health Service’s (NHS) director of acute care.

Mr Willett, 26, who attended Cheney School, Headington, starred for Great Britain at the World Medical Football Cup in Mexico.

The GB team defeated the Czech Republic in the final in July, to retain their title.

He said: “Winning a World Cup medal makes me very proud - it is a huge honour.”

Oxford Mail:

Great Britain Medical team in Brazil

His incredible World Cup journey began when he received a call from the coach of the Great Britain Football Medical Team who had read an article about his career change in the Oxford Mail.

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Mr Willett was helped by the players union, who awarded him a bursary to help fund his studies at medical school.

“I wasn’t aware that GB had a team, but he invited me for a trial and that was the start of my World Cup adventure.”

Mr Willett, a former Oxford United Academy trainee who signed for the U’s aged eight, added: “It was a fantastic opportunity that came about due to the involvement and interest that the PFA took in my training as a medical student.”

He was in his final year at medical school when he was contacted by the Professional Footballer’s Association Director of Education Pat Lally.

Oxford Mail:

Matthew Willett playing for Oxford United as a teenager

“It was a complete surprise and a call which helped change of the course of my life,” said Mr Willett, who trained under former U’s boss Chris Wilder now managing Sheffield United in the Premier League.

“It had never occurred to me that help was available because I never made my professional debut for Oxford. It provided me with an incredible boost at a crucial time during my studies.

“It does say a lot about the players union, the way they work and what is important to them in terms of helping players past and present.

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“But I’ll always be incredibly grateful to the Professional Footballers’ Association for their generous help and advice – they have made a huge difference to my life.”

Mr Willett was accompanied on his trip to Mexico by his father, who was previously the consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Oxford Mail:

Pictured with his father Keith

Daniel Collins, coach of the Great Britain Medical team, said: “Keith became involved on Matthew’s recommendation as he was a keen amateur footballer.

“He played for the GB Medical Masters (Veterans) at the World Cup, so we got two new players as a result of the article.”

The GB squad is a national representative side of doctors who are former academy players and non-league amateur footballers.

The tournament provided a stern test for the GB Medical stars, who played six games in a week and had to endure punishing temperatures at Riviera Maya.

“It was gruelling and very hard to play in that heat and humidity, I’d never experienced conditions like that before,” said Matthew.

“It was brutal, 100 degrees, so it was an incredible effort by the GB team to win the World Cup.”

Great Britain defeated Brazil and old foes Argentina on penalties before edging past the Czech Republic to lift the trophy.

Mr Willett added: “It was so special to be at a World Cup with my dad, both representing Great Britain.

“Hopefully we will be there at the next one - in Argentina next summer.”