Footballers from Lowestoft, Beccles and Great Yarmouth triumph in Brazil
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England's footballers may have returned from Brazil in a downbeat mood after their early exit from the World Cup.
But a team of restaurant workers from the east coast have helped to restore a little bit of national sporting pride.
As previously reported in The Journal, Team Wicks – made up of McDonald's staff from Lowestoft, Pakefield, Beccles and Great Yarmouth – claimed the right to jet out to Brazil after they won their company's European football challenge.
And now captain Gemma Farman, who works at the Beccles McDonald's; Sue-Lyn King, Nikki Wigg and Vicki Turner, from the Pakefield branch; Mary Colledge and Kerri Stephenson, from the Lowestoft town centre branch, and Sophie Martin, from Great Yarmouth, are celebrating global success.
Team Wicks returned home this week as five-a-side football champions after beating a team of Brazilian McDonald's workers in an exhibition match in Rio de Janeiro.
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During their visit, the team got the see the World Cup last 16 match between Uruguay and Columbia.
Kerri said: 'Having the chance to play in Rio de Janeiro, one of the footballing capitals of the globe, was a once in a lifetime chance for the team and me.
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'The atmosphere during the World Cup was wonderful and we managed to see Columbia versus Uruguay, which was one of the liveliest and most passionate football games I've ever experienced.'
The team were managed in the final, held at the FC Fluminense stadium, by David Wicks, McDonald's operations consultant.
He said: 'I'm immensely proud of the team's achievements this year, both as a football team and ambassadors for the brand.
'It was a long journey to Rio, becoming champions of Europe on the way, but it's been an amazing experience.'
As well claiming the unofficial title of world champions, Team Wicks also met Brazil's former star defender Cafu, who played at three World Cups.
Team Wicks' road to glory started with victory in the UK leg of the McDonald's Euro Cup tournament. They then won the European tournament in Nuremberg, beating the Danish champions 1-0 in the final.
More than 10,000 McDonald's workers from across Europe took part in the event.