A PROFESSIONAL footballer from Olveston has spoken of his pride after captaining Great Britain to a silver medal at the World University Games.

Gary Warren, who is the skipper of Conference Premier side Newport County, scored a penalty as Britain beat Brazil in a shootout to reach the final, where they lost 2-0 to Japan in China.

The 27-year-old defender stayed in a purpose built village with 15,000 other athletes in Shenzhen for the international multi-sport event and played in front of nearly 35,000 people in the final.

Recalling the moment he got on the podium with the rest of his team, Warren told the Gazette: “The Chinese don’t do anything small, it was very professional, like something you would see in the Olympics.

“I got a medal, a bouquet of flowers and the national anthem was playing so it was a really proud moment.

“The experience was unbelievable. They built four or five brand new stadiums for football equivalent to Championship standard.”

Warren scored in open play when Britain beat Canada 2-1 in the group stages, which they followed up with a 1-0 win over to Ghana to secure their progress before losing 1-0 to Japan in a prelude to the final.

They beat South Korea 1-0 in the quarter-final before triumphing 4-3 on penalties against Brazil in front of 25,000 people after the 90 minutes ended goalless.

That made up for the heartache that Warren and Great Britain felt two years ago when they were knocked out by eventual winners Ukraine on penalties at the semi-final stage of the event in Belgrade, before they went on to claim bronze.

The final against a strong Japan side proved to be one step too far, but Warren enjoyed playing in front of large crowds and was delighted to come back with a silver medal.

“It was probably the most I’ve played in front of and that experience is one I will never forget,” he said.

“Japan had a few under-21 internationals so they were a decent outfit.

“I don’t think the squad could’ve believed we would get out of the groups because over in China it’s a very different climate and we were playing against sides with a few international players but the boys really deserved the silver medal.”

Warren, whose younger brother Tom plays for Yate Town, qualified to play at the Games after completing a teacher training course at Bath University earlier this year.

However, his plans to become a PE teacher were put on the back-burner as Newport have gone full-time this season.

Warren was also the subject of a £10,000 bid from League Two side Cheltenham Town in the summer, but it was rejected by Newport with manager Anthony Hudson calling the offer “an insult to the player and the club.”

He was at Bristol Rovers as a youngster and almost returned to the club in 2006 after impressing on trial, but then manager Paul Trollope only had room for one more central defender and signed Byron Anthony instead.

After getting a taste of the big-time in China, Warren has set his sights on realising his dream of playing in the Football League and hopes to lead Newport to promotion this season.

He said: “If we’re in the top six at Christmas we’ll have a good chance of getting into the League.

“Hopefully one day I’ll get a chance. It’s all about opportunities and getting a lucky break.

“Everyone’s dream in football is to be playing full-time and if you get a chance it’s hard to turn down. So far I’m enjoying every moment.”