Dillon Sheridan is the only ever Irish player to win a Golden Boot award at a World Football Championship, an accomplishment many could only dream of.
Not only is he an Irish international, but he is also a star player and is coming of the back off receiving the golden boot at the most recent World Cup, scoring 10 times during the tournament. His goals played a crucial part in Ireland finishing 6th in the competition, which is the highest ever finish for any Irish team ever. Dillion has Cerebral Palsy and is a member of the Irish CP team and despite the amazing achievements that Dillon has reached so far in his career, he is still improving.
For anyone unsure about what cerebral palsy football actually is, Dillon kindly gave me a quick run through of the sport. CP football is for people with cerebral palsy. There are different types of classes ranging from five to eight, with five being the least mobile and a class eight being those who suffer but have the most mobility. Cerebral Palsy can be something you are born with or can be acquired from an accident or a stroke. The rules are slightly different in the game with the pitches and goals being smaller and teams being restricted to 7 players. You must have one class five player on the pitch at all times and can only have one class eight player on the pitch. The game is played at a very high level and Dillon showed his own qualities after a clip of him scoring a stunning goal was uploaded onto the FAI’s official Facebook page and went viral in the process.
Dillon is from Ballyfermot and has been playing CP football for five years. His journey along the way has been incredible.
"I was playing a game for Ballyfermot United against Liffey Valley when the Ireland manager spotted me and invited me to train with them…I have been involved since then."
During these five years Dillon has enjoyed a lot of goal scoring success. He finished top goal scorer in a pre-Paralympic tournament in Spain before he went to Rio to play in the 2016 Olympics. Dillon describes this experience as the highlight of his footballing career to date.
"Playing in Rio was by far the best experience in my football career. Playing in front of thousands of fans, doing lots of interviews, kids asking for autographs, we basically felt what it was to live like professional footballers for a month."
The team didn't get the results they wanted in Rio but the experience certainly did help the squad mature and they used the disappointment of Rio as extra motivation for the World Championships in Argentina that happened this summer. The team ended up finishing sixth and suffered a heart breaking loss to the USA in the fifth & sixth place play off. The achievement that got everyone talking back home however was Dillon finishing as top goal scorer in the tournament. An achievement that is certainly not to be scoffed at, and Dillon says it is his greatest personal achievement.
"Nothing compares to winning a Golden Boot for your country at a World Championships, and in terms of my greatest individual achievements I think that it has to be."
One thing that Dillon is really grateful for is the support from friends and family back home when he goes away to tournaments and he puts a lot of his success down to this amazing support he receives.
"I honestly don't think I could achieve what I have without it. ‘There is honestly no better feeling than knowing people are proud of you back home."
After the heroics in Argentina the team have their sights firmly set on next year’s European Championships in Holland. The team is young and hungry, with the average age of the players that went away to Argentina being 21 and now with this experience under their belt, Dillon and his team mates are really looking to push on and build on it. ‘Looking ahead to next year I think we will be looking to medal, especially with the likes of: Canada, Argentina, Brazil, USA, and Iran not taking part.’ On an individual note Dillon is looking to pick up another Golden Boot and continue doing what he does best, scoring goals.
"After winning the Golden Boot in a World Championship, I think I have to be aiming to win it again at the Europeans."
Dillon is setting himself a target of 8 goals for the European championships and with his track record, no one would even think to doubt him. He is a local lad who is shining on the big stage and we look forward to seeing him shine at another championship.
Have a look at Dylan scoring 4 in Ireland's 5-1 stomping of the Dutch team (his first goals a belter).
Author: Shaun Stevens
16 November 2017