DEBBIE TAKES HER PLACE IN HALL OF FAME

It seems you can't keep Eastbourne Borough out of the national news these days, but this time it's a Priory Lane lady who is making the headlines.

Debbie Bampton was among the household names recently installed in national football's Hall of Fame at a gala dinner in Manchester.

Others honoured on the same night included ex-England stars John Barnes and Ian Wright and Manchester United's Welsh international Ryan Giggs.

Debbie, a 44-year-old postwoman who lives in Wannock, retired from playing football five years ago after a glittering career which saw her win 96 England caps and captain her country in two separate spells.

She also won every possible domestic honour as a player at Arsenal and as a player-coach at Croydon.

After her career at the top level was over she moved back to East Sussex and played for Borough Ladies until she finally hung up her boots at the end of last season.

At a memorable ceremony in Manchester, a glass trophy was presented to her by former England captain Bryan Robson. She said, 'It was an honour to accept the award. It was a fantastic evening and something I'll remember for the rest of my life.'

She is only the fourth woman to be in the roll of honour and was inducted on the night along with Wright, Giggs, Barnes and others.

Being surrounded by so many stars was something Debbie found quite surreal.

She said, 'I was in the VIP section before the ceremony started with the likes of Sir Alex (Ferguson).

'I wouldn't say I was star struck but it's something I wasn't quite used to. People from Eastbourne had asked me to get Sir Alex's autograph and so he's there congratulating me on my award and I'm asking him for his signature.'

Meeting Sir Alex wasn't the highlight of Debbie's evening though. She said, 'We were all sat at these great big tables, and whose chair should be backing onto mine but my childhood hero, Alan Ball.

'We spoke for about an hour and he was really genuine. When I was younger I used to wear his shirt and I wanted to play like him. In fact meeting him was as good as getting the award.'

Debbie, who has also received an MBE for her services to the game, has so many momentous moments to recall – captaining England at the World Cup in Sweden where England lost to Germany in the quarter-finals; her MBE (' a reward for my parents') and completing the double as player-manager of Croydon.

Unlike her male counterparts, Debbie cannot sit back and live off her playing career.

'In an ideal world I would like to coach in schools. I want to do something in football because it's what I enjoy. But I'd also love another chance to manage and I'm open to offers.'