A BLACKROD ice hockey player puck-ed up the courage to pull on a Great Britain jersey and impressed at a major tournament.

Ex-Rivington and Blackrod High School pupil Paul Swindlehurst has had a fairytale few weeks as he impress national selectors enough to be part of a 23-man squad for the World Championships.

The 20-year-old defender was shocked to discover he made the cut last week.

Dad David, speaking just hours before jetting out to Lithuania to surprise his son, said: “He is on cloud nine.

“We have spent a lot of time travelling for years as far as Sheffield for training camps and now all the hard work has paid off.

“He has been the driving force behind it all and we have said if he wants to give up at any time we would support him.

“But he has just made sure he had the kit ready to go to games.

“He was delighted to play against Netherlands and made it through the selection from 29 to 25 members.

“He had one last trial and he rang me to say that he was to go away with the team on the Friday.

“His first cap was against Croatia but it was a tough game for them losing 4-0, although he managed to be the player of the match.

“He also played in the next game against Romania and they won, which was great.”

Paul is a multi-talented sportsman and played for Blackrod CC in the Bolton Association aged 14.

However, he has aspirations of reaching the top in ice hockey.

David added: “He appeared in The Bolton News at 16 and went off to Canada for a scholarship.

“He returned and moved to Swinton to play in the EPL League and from there he went with his coach George Hutchings to Dundee Allstars who are in the top division nationally.

“He was told he would get some time on the ice but it worked out better than expected as a few injuries meant he played a lot of matches.

“He rose to the challenge and was the league’s young player of the year and a magazine said he was the rookie of the year.

“We are so proud of what he has achieved and hopefully he can achieve his dream of becoming an Olympian.”