Scots Fifa 21 superfan rising through the gamer ranks

FIFA21 superfan James Toland is rising up through the ranks of the gaming phenomenon — by playing with his FEET.

Like millions around the globe, the 30-year-old from Cumbernauld reckons the latest edition of the world’s most popular video game is a winner.

James is one of the country`s top players

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James is one of the country`s top playersCredit: Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow

But due to the rare TAR syndrome — a blood disorder which leads to sufferer’s being born with shorter arms — he has to press the buttons with his toes and grip the controller between his feet.

James says: “I get the odd remark from people who will say they’ve been beaten again by a guy using his feet.

“Sometimes I get a bit cocky as I’ll be playing then I’ll take a drink of tea from a cup using my hands at the same time to wind up folk, but that’s just when I’m playing against friends and family.”

James attended mainstream schooling and got his first job at the age of 15 working in a local SPAR.

He says: “Football is my passion in life. I was no Pele or Maradona on the football pitch at school, however I was really good at football computer games.

“I never used special controllers. I’ve only ever used the normal ones. Even back to the Sega Mega Drive days.”

While studying computing at Cumbernauld College  he worked part-time at a call centre before being taken on full-time five years ago.

James is rising through the rankings

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James is rising through the rankingsCredit: Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow

But now his ambition is to try to make a career out of gaming, like US superstar Ninja.

The YouTube sensation — real name Richard Tyler Blevins — managed to continue gaming despite going blind in one eye after suffering a detached retina.

James says: “I find it amazing someone who has had eye problems as he has is still top of his game. He has been an inspiration to me.

“I would love to be as big as him. That’s the dream.”

He adds: “I’m trying to make a living from it as I think it’s a pretty unique selling point playing with my feet — in fact it’s bizarre and completely crazy. A lot of people stream video games these days and make a comfortable living from it. I’m already getting a good following on my Twitch channel and doing YouTube live as well.

“If you get a big enough following then that’s when you can build up a revenue stream.”

James lives at home with his younger brother Matthew and  mum Gail Robertson, who was always amazed by her son’s determination, saying: “There’s a way — then there’s a James Toland way.”


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Despite his infectious positivity, James has his low moments too.

He admits: “I have my dark times  where to be honest life gets too much for me. “My legs are sore every day now as I get older and I’m currently off work due to pains in my legs and depression at the moment. But I just remind myself that life is a challenge and if I was born with arms then life would be too easy for me.

“I’m a huge Celtic supporter and football and FIFA is what keeps me going.”

Now James is busy working his way up through the leagues taking on the world’s best gamers as he improves his skills – by putting in six hours streaming a day.

He says: “FIFA21 has a competitive mode called weekend league that consists of 30 matches against really good players.

“You need to qualify each weekend. My highest wins were 20 out of 30. I’m not the best in the world yet but I am at a very high level.”

He adds: “From a disability point of view, it’s pretty nervy to put yourself out there live on the internet. I just hope by doing so I inspire other young disabled people in similar circumstances.

“Because I know what it has done for me — football and FIFA has completely changed my life for the better.”

matt.bendoris@the-sun.co.uk

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