England

Ex-Manchester City player Lee Crooks set for Afghan tour

A former Manchester City midfielder will swap his football boots for desert boots as he prepares to embark on front line service in Afghanistan.

Lee Crooks, 33, who made 73 appearances for City between 1994 and 2001, joined the RAF as a gunner in 2009.

He has since graduated to leading aircraftman and will go on his first tour early next year.

"I have done my training and am now really looking forward to putting it into practice," he said.

The Wakefield-born footballer played for a number of other clubs including Barnsley, Bradford City and Rochdale.

'More explosive'

The RAF man said the two jobs had a lot in common.

"Both roles are about working as a team, being there for your team-mates and moving forward as a team," he said.

Image caption Lee Crooks was a product of the Manchester City youth scheme

"You have to be mentally and physically fit for both roles, but you train as a professional footballer for 90 minutes so the training is a lot more explosive.

"Being a gunner you have to be robust and have a lot more stamina as you are carrying heavy weight over longer distances and over longer days and nights."

He added: "You train all week to prepare for the Saturday game and put everything that you've trained for in that game and it's exactly the same as this."

He is currently preparing at RAF Honington in Suffolk and will move to 1 Squadron before he leaves for the front line.

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