Man city star John Stones and an England legend surprised a crowd of 300 homeless football players taking part in a charity tournament.
Blues hero John Stones was mobbed by starstruck fans as he and former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton met those taking part in the Salvation Army’s Partnership Trophy at the GOALS Manchester football centre in Cheetham Hill.
The tournament works with Pep Guardiola’s Spanish charity,
The Guardiola Sala Foundation, to bring vulnerable people from across the country together for a day of football.
John Stones loving the tournament
Some of the players invited Stones for a five-a-side kickabout on the astroturf but the center-back bowed out joking “I wouldn’t be much use” due to a groin injury. However, he did pose for selfies and sign shirts.
Legendary goalkeeper, Shilton, 74, who is the most capped England player in history,
He also turned up to cheer the teams on from the sidelines, reports the Mirror.
Gary Bourton, 51, from Reading, told the Mirror: “He was my childhood hero,
I watched him for the first time when he was playing for Saints (Southampton FC) and I was just a boy.
I’ve followed his career since, he’s a legend but I never could have dreamed
I would meet him and get him to sign my shirt.”
Like Gary, Anton Barnes, 38, fell homeless following battles with drug addiction and has been living in a Salvation Army Lifehouse for several months. With their help, Anton has got clean and is getting his life in Sheffield back on track.
Thanking to all those who joined the tournament
He said: “It’s incredible that these men have come down here to meet us,
They’re millionaires and they’ve taken the time to come and chat to us, it means everything.
” After offering the men some shot-saving tips,
Peter also opened up on his own struggles in an emotional speech about his gambling addiction.
His voice wavered as he told the crowds: “My reason for coming out publicly was because I’d heard one person was committing suicide every day because they felt they couldn’t stop gambling.
“All I want to say is you can stop, it’s not easy, but there is help out there. Sometimes I was on the computer until 3am and it was ruining my life. But the day I stopped was the best day of my life.”
Peter told how he lost millions during his 45-year addiction, which he kept a closely guarded secret until meeting his now wife, Steph, in 2016.
Kids talking to the players
In previous years, the Partnership Trophy players have been surprised by the likes of Erik ten Hag, Terry Butcher and Pep Guardiola himself.
Jack Smithson, 25, and Steven Rogers, 41, both fell homeless and housed in the charity’s Swan Lodge life house in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.
After his relationship broke down, Jack was left sofa surfing at various friends’ houses and had “nowhere else to go” in July last year.
He said: “I was so scared on the first night. I was also guilty of having the misconceived view that the people living there would be troublemakers
But so many of them were just like me, they’d just run out of places to turn to.
I never would have approached Steven or even thought we would have anything in common,
But we has a kick around and just got chatting.”
After the death of both his parents, Steven was evicted and was struggling with undiagnosed learning difficulties.
He’s been living at Swan Lodge for the last four years.
He is receiving support from the tutors to gain qualifications in Maths and English.