When we meet with Manchester Futsal royalty, Danny ‘Prince’ Stapleton, the first thing we chat about is his infamous nickname.
‘My mum has always had nicknames for me, as a 4 year old when I was on the football pitch it was Doodles, then it became Dash after The Incredibles because I’m always running round and on my tiptoes.
When I was around 11 years old I remember saying to her that I’m too old for this name and I’m not sure exactly where it came from but she started calling me prince and it stuck, I’ve been prince ever since’.
Already a MFC veteran at the grand age of 21 years old, Danny has been with the club for over 6 years. His pathway to the club started with a choice decision by someone else.
‘I wanted to take part in the Maccabiah games which is a Jewish sporting event, it’s essentially the biggest sporting event for Jews. I played football so I tried out for the football team but you had to choose two sports to try out for, so picked I futsal as well because in all fairness I didn’t know what else to pick’.
‘The football and futsal managers were arguing over me, and which team I should be on. It was the futsal manager who put his foot down and said that I was going to be on their team. Once I had that confirmation I needed to get some practice in as I knew a bit about Futsal but not much, I didn’t really know what it was’.
‘Next I started learning futsal with Manchester and since the age of 15 I’ve literally been there three times a week ever since. There wasn’t even a youth academy or development team when I joined. I’ve also seen the women’s team come in as well. It’s been great to
see all the developments happening and how all the team and aspects of the club are going from strength to strength’.
It was also a helping hand that pointed him in the direction of Manchester Futsal Club.
‘It was my mum who found out that there was a team in Manchester and she messaged Ilya to find out about how I could join’
‘My mum is so supportive of everything in my life, she pioneers everything. She would drive me to the training sessions when I first started and she’s there at every game whether that be futsal or football’.
‘Mum is my manager’, he says with a cheeky laugh, ‘she gets a pay cut, a percentage of everything I get!’
‘Mum is at everything, and it’s a good everything. I know that whatever I’m doing I’ve got someone watching and supporting me, I would like to say that it helps me play better but I’ve never known what it’s like to play when she’s not there so I always put in my best performance and give 100%'.
The prince of Manchester is also reaching international levels with his futsal career, as he’s recently received news of another call up to play for Northern Ireland.
‘Again my mum was the one who helped bring this opportunity around. She messaged the coach of the team on twitter to ask about eligibility to play. Next thing I was being asked for my passport and getting a phone call inviting me to a camp'.
'When I got that first call up to play against Scotland I was absolutely buzzing! It was an unbelievable feeling. Hopefully I’ll be in team forever'.
'When I got a second call up people asked me if it felt the same and it honestly did. I feel that same proud feeling that I have in saying that I play for Northern Ireland as I do when I say I play for Manchester. It’s such a cool thing and when the picture goes out for the team list and I see my name on it, it’s such an amazing feeling. It also gives me chances to travel to places I might never have got to visit'.
'I’m now on my third call up and I don’t think it will ever get boring. I’m hoping to get a goal this time but I really want the win. The experience is everything though'.
What is clearly apparent when talking to Danny is how much his family mean to him
‘Family comes before everything’
‘A special moment for me was that both my mum and dad were watching my first time playing futsal for Northern Ireland and I got my first goal there as well! It was a great experience’.
Family filters all the way through
‘With the guys in the team, some of us spend more time with each other then we get to with our own families, so it’s great that we have such a good bond and get on so well. If we’ve not got each other both on the court and off the court then the team wouldn’t work’.
Even though I’ve been here a while I am still treated as a young lad. We have such a dynamic range of characters on the team. Kingy is like the naughty school kid and Sam is a mentor, he’s a wizard, a grand master of Futsal.
With the newer introductions to the team players like Cristiano and Kimet, they are both brilliant players and they have fitted seamlessly into the team’.
His favourite Futsal player is also someone linked with the club
‘Ilya Ovechkin, what a god! There is nothing that man can’t do. He’s a good guy although I can’t always take him seriously’.
His commitment and dedication to Futsal spans off the court as well.
‘Outside of the sessions I work with a personal trainer, it helps to keep me sharp, explosive and powerful. I do yoga a couple times a week! Bikram yoga, it’s great but terrible! I’m active everyday, except for Friday, I need one chill day a week!’.
‘I play football for Ramsbottom too. I guess I like running around and chasing a ball around! What I like about playing at Manchester Futsal Club is that there is always something different and I love that’.
'I do have some pre-match rituals too. I always but the right sock on first, and the right trainer on first. I don’t even know why but it just has to be done that way!'
Danny has already achieved a lot in his career, adding to that the fact that he has already won the futsal league, played in cup finals and is currently playing in the super league.
You have to keep coming back to the fact that he is only 21 years old and there is a lot more still to come from him.
He recently celebrated his 50th goal with the club and we’re looking forward to his next 50 goals with the club (and then some!)
‘I’m passionate about everything that I do in life’.
‘I think if you’re not going to try to the best of your ability, or at least try your best, then they’re is not point in doing it’
Catch Danny and the rest of the team in action at their next home game of the season on Sunday 10th February 2019.
Link for tickets below
To purchase an official Manchester Futsal Club Shirt or other merchandise follow the link below