Premier League duo Luke Shaw and Steven Reid are just two of a number of names who have shown their support for a former Chelsea youth star, diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
Neil Hams had enjoyed a career that started with the Premier League giants, before representing a variety of non-league teams as a player and in management. Hams held a position as assistant manager in the eighth tier of the football league system just last season, but now since been diagnosed with condition – a very rare feat for someone of his age.
And with an awareness and fundraising event being organised for the 37-year-old, a number of professionals have given their support and backing for the campaign.
Burnley and Republic of Ireland defender Steven Reid, who infamously completed 45 minutes against Arsenal with a broken leg, has regularly shown his support to Hams and the fundraising event, known as the ‘Neil Hams Benefit Day’, while Manchester United’s £30 million summer signing Luke Shaw has become the latest name to advertise and support the day.
However, they are not alone in support, with a wide variety of former professionals and well-known figures either offering their support to play in the charity match, or helping advertise the upcoming event organised by Hams' older brother.
Sky Sports pundit Tony Gale – who lifted the Premier League in 1995 after almost 600 appearances in the top flight – has continuously supported Hams after working together at Walton Casuals FC, as well as former Premier League and First Division footballers Jody Morris, Neil Shipperley, Kerry Dixon, Gareth Hall, David Lee, Jason Cundy and Kevin Watson.
Nevertheless, it is not only footballers expressing their support, as former Bath and England rugby union player Duncan Bell, and former Gloucestershire and England cricketer Martyn Ball are both potential names to swap their gum shields and bats for a pair of boots or gloves.
Leading football video game series Pro Evolution Soccer have even offered support by endorsing the event on their official Twitter account, as the event prepares to help raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease, while also funding any lifelong dreams Hams has, a man described as “a true gentlemen” and “one of the nicest guys in football”.
The Neil Hams Benefit Day is expected to have a number of notable figures in attendance, and will take place at Walton Casuals FC on Sunday May 10.