Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Biting Back: Footballers are not all self-obsessed

Generous: Everton's Steven Naismith
Generous: Everton's Steven Naismith

There is a widespread belief that professional footballers are overpaid prima donnas. Many are. But not all.

Everton's ex-Glasgow Rangers forward Steven Naismith has just bought tickets for some of his club's forthcoming home games. He will be giving those to unemployed Merseysiders who cannot afford the admission price to Goodison Park.

Across Stanley Park – a five minute walk from Goodison – is Anfield, home of Liverpool FC whose now-retired defensive stalwart Jamie Carragher last year donated all the takings from his testimonial game to local charities.

That included £25,000 to the Everton Foundation, promoting health, education, social inclusion and equality of opportunity across Merseyside using the power of sport.

Former Arsenal, Manchester City, Sunderland and Ireland striker Niall Quinn blazed the trail a decade earlier by giving the £1m proceeds of his testimonial to building a new children's outpatient department at Sunderland Royal Hospital, a children's wing at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin and a donation to Goal, a project for street children in Calcutta.

The recent Dale Farm Milk Cup featured the Craig Bellamy Foundation team from Sierra Leone. The fiery ex-Norwich, Coventry, Newcastle, Celtic, Blackburn, Liverpool, West Ham, Cardiff and Wales forward has created that in the hope of using football to promote healthy choices, education, gender equality and sustainable development.

At times we are aghast at the obscene wages paid to some self-obsessed top-flight personalities. Equally, there are moments when we must applaud those who share their good fortune and great fortunes.

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