BETT ON MAR­CUS MAK­ING IT BACK

In­jured keeper’s work ethic is cru­cial

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Matt Bad­cock

IF ANY­ONE will put in the hard work to re­turn from a hor­ri­ble knee in­jury, it’s Ful­ham’s Mar­cus Bet­tinelli. The 23-year-old keeper had to be car­ried off on a stretcher fol­low­ing an ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sion with team-mate Matt Smith and Hull City’s Abel Her­nan­dez dur­ing Wed­nes­day night’s 2-1 de­feat.

Both Bet­tinelli and Smith sus­tained knee lig­a­ment in­juries, and boss Kit Sy­mons ad­mits it doesn’t look good for the stop­per.

Just four days ear­lier, the Eng­land U21 in­ter­na­tional was at Hai­ley­bury School in Hert­ford Heath.

The for­mer Dart­ford and Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley loa­nee was out of bed early on Sun­day morn­ing at The Art of Sav­ing academy to lend his sup­port to Mick Payne, who used to train him as a young­ster.

Back then, on cold Waltham­stow nights, Eng­land C keeper coach Payne used to put on car head­lights to give them more light in which to work.

“I’ve known Mick a long time, through my old man, and he was a great help to me when I was younger,” said Bet­tinelli, whose dad Vic is Ful­ham’s Academy goalie coach.

Grate­ful

“We were jok­ing about it, but we used to go and train on a lit­tle bit of grass by the side of an As­tro pitch. We used the over­spill of the flood­lights to see.

“It was dark, cold, wet and windy. My dad used to drive me over there af­ter school and Mick would take the ses­sions.

“Ev­ery lit­tle bit helps when you are younger and try­ing to learn. So I’m very grate­ful for what Mick has done for me and I’m de­lighted to come down and see the next gen­er­a­tion.”

With more than 100 goal­keep­ers aged be­tween seven and 51, and from as far away as Is­rael and Ber­muda, Bet­tinelli also took part in a Q&A along with AFC Wim­ble­don stop­per James Shea

And what was is his big­gest piece of ad­vice for bud­ding goalies?

“Hard work beats tal­ent – 100 per cent,” Bet­tinelli said.“A lot of peo­ple down at Ful­ham will tell you, when I was a scholar, I wasn’t great. I wasn’t an amaz­ing goal­keeper.

“But I worked hard. I put in the hours. I put in more than any­body else and, luck­ily enough for me, it’s worked out.

“My old man has al­ways been in­volved in football. He’s al­ways taught me well, put me in good stead and got me in­volved with peo­ple like Mick and Martin Bren­nan, who is my goal­keeper coach now at Ful­ham.They drive you on each day.”

While that drive will be needed for long days re­cu­per­at­ing in the gym, Bet­tinelli won’t shy away.

The blow came at the worst time, hav­ing just signed a new four-year deal on the back of go­ing away with the Eng­land U21 squad to the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in the sum­mer.

Im­prov­ing

It was the latest stop in a ca­reer that was on the up af­ter im­por­tant loan spells at Non­League Dart­ford and League Two Ac­cring­ton had aided his de­vel­op­ment.

“When I look back at Dart­ford, it was a great time for me,” he said, speak­ing be­fore the in­jury.“It was my first ex­po­sure to real games.

“Af­ter Dart­ford I went on to Ac­cring­ton and played another 46 games there.

“It’s about play­ing games and im­prov­ing. That’s what Dart­ford and Ac­cring­ton did for me. With­out that, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“Ful­ham is a great club to be at, a great sta­dium and great fans.

“We’ve got great fa­cil­i­ties and I en­joy it there. I’m hop­ing to be at the club for a very long time.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

ETCHED IN PAIN: Mar­cus Bet­tinelli’s face tells the tale af­ter col­lid­ing with Matt Smith. Inset: He’s car­ried off

LONG ROAD AHEAD: Bet­tinelli faces a bat­tle for fit­ness

MEN­TOR: Eng­land C coach Payne guided young Bet­tinelli

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