WHEN Pete Monks found himself lining up in the green, gold and white of the British Virgin Islands, the Chippenham Town defender knew that his sensational international appearance definitely wasn’t an elaborate joke.

The 27-year-old, who lives in Royal Wootton Bassett, is coming to terms with the prestige of earning an international bow after playing in the Virgin Islands’ 40th anniversary match against St Vincent and the Grenadines late last month.

While his Bluebirds team-mates were recovering from a Southern League Premier Division clash with Dunstable Town, Monks was more than 4,000 miles away, playing in midfield in his new side’s 6-0 friendly loss.

His Virgin Islands call-up came courtesy of a friend with family links in the Nature Boyz’ football association but in the lead-up, the Chippenham man admitted he kept his cards close to his chest, just in case it all turned out to be a ruse.

“It all came through my friend Daniel Barker, who’s a former pro at Yeovil. His cousin works over in the British Virgin Islands for their FA and contacted him asking him if he knew any players that could come out there to play,” said Monks, who works as an operations manager for a Dorset gym.

“When he sent me a message, I thought that it had to be a wind-up and he eventually messaged me again saying that he needed a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

“To be honest, I didn’t really tell too many people about it because I thought that it had to be a joke, but it all happened really last-minute and a load of us from England ended up flying out there. We qualified through our British passports.

“It’s the kind of opportunity that you can’t say ‘no’ to. It’s the kind of place that you’d love to go on holiday to, so to go there to play football is just amazing.

“We had a week of training and it was just red-hot, which was really hard to deal with.

“The game kicked off an hour earlier than the time we’d had training, so before the match you were just drinking as much water as you could because you knew you were in for a work-out.

“I started in midfield in the game and it was great. I’m still pinching myself about it all to be honest because it’s a story that’s going to stay with me for years.”

The Virgin Islands are currently 199th in the FIFA world rankings and handed former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur boss André Villas-Boas his first job in management in 1998.

Monks says that he would be happy to build on his Nature Boyz debut.

He said: “A few friends have joked that the door’s shut on me playing for England now – I think that ship sailed a long time ago.

“Obviously, it is hard to take time off work to go out there but if we got a bit of notice, I’d love to do it again.”