Stoke City legend Mike Pejic has turned his talents to the martial art of Taekwondo with stunning success.
The 62 year old former potters defender who retired three decades ago, has taken the sport by storm to win a place in the national squad for his age group.
His selection follows a silver medal in the men’s over-60 division at the British National Taekwondo Championships in Sheffield. “I was only beaten by a grand master and the world number one,” said Mike, a third dan black belt who took up the sport when working in Kuwait 15 years ago.
“The judges seemed impressed with me and I was really chuffed when they then asked me to join up with the National squad at some time in the future.” Those who remember the combative Pejic in his heyday, however, will be surprised to learn that these days he only participates in the demonstration, non-contact version of Taekwondo “I suppose it’s a bit like dressage with horses,” he added, “but it is physically and mentally demanding with the judges watching you.” Mike was one of 10 medal winners from the Stoke Taekwondo team at the National Championships in Sheffield.
Others included gold medal winners Bjorn Dominick, aged 14 from Ash Bank in the Junior Cadet Division and Sophie Kennerley, from Sandbach in the mini Pee Wee Division. Julia Mason, from Crewe won silver in the Senior Female Two Division, while bronze medallists included coach Peter Johnson in the under-59s division. Mike Johnson, Bethany Johnson and Bradley Bergamini were selected for National squads in their respective age groups to complete their club’s most successful visit ever to the National Championships. Mike was the left-back in Stoke’s 1972 League Cup winning team and went on to make 274 appearances for the Potters before leaving for Everton in 1976.
Born in Chesterton, he won four caps for England in 1974 and had a brief spell with Aston Villa. He has coached for both Stoke City and Port Vale, and worked for the FA, but is now back in the Moorlands and commentating on Stoke matches for local radio.
Mike also won gold at a tournament in Northern Ireland and was chosen to represent Great Britain after a silver medal in the men’s over-60 division at the British National Taekwondo Championships in Sheffield. Mike coaches in local schools and also runs an academy at Chesterton Community College every Monday from 5.30pm – 7pm. The classes are open to all ages and beginners can try a session for free.
The club coaches under the rules of the World Taekwondo Federation, the version accepted by the Olympics. His love of Taekwondo began 15 years ago while coaching in Kuwait. He carried on practicing when he returned to England to coach football at Stoke City under Lou Macari.
He said: “I used to practice with my instructor in the boardroom at the Victoria Ground. “In fact, when Mark Stein re-joined the club, Lou told him there was a training session upstairs so to go and check out what we’d be doing. “He came through the door of the boardroom and couldn’t believe it.
I’ll remember his face until the day I die!”
For further details of Mike’s Taekwondo academy, contact Mike at
1968–1976 Stoke City Apearances 274 Goals 6