THE World Cup has kicked off early for one lucky Widnes footballer.

Gary Sullivan, aged 26, won a dream trip to Rio to tackle one of Brazil’s top professional women’s football teams.

He works as a human resources officer for the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.

After a gruelling trial day in London, his amateur five aside football team beat 900 soccer hopefuls from across the country to tackle cider giant Strongbow’s ‘Earn it’ Rio challenge.

Gary, who travels back to Halton View every weekend, said: “It was the best week of my life, absolutely unbelievable.

“I was in complete and utter shock when we won it.

“We had celebrity coach Chris Kamara training us. He really put us through our paces but it was thoroughly enjoyable.”

The lads had a rigorous week’s training before taking on the mighty Vasco ladies team.

Gary and his fellow players Ross McEvoy, aged 27, Matt Short, aged 30, Dave Howarth, aged 31, and Danny Kerr, aged 26, have been sworn to secrecy not to reveal the result.

Former Moorfield junior and Fairfield High pupil Gary said: “We also had a Brazilian coach training us. We were doing hill sprints, running up and down step ladders and down steps.

“It was impressive seeing the stadium where the World Cup final is going to be played.

“It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Chris Kamara said: “It was a dream job managing the team in Rio, especially when the whole nation is getting into the football spirit.

“The Brazilian ladies are top class footballers. They’re fast, intricate, organised and have endless footballing flair.

“That said, the team put up a good fight.”