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Helen McConnell ties the knot with Manchester United star Jonny Evans

By Maureen Coleman

She grew up in a football-mad family, loves all kinds of sports and works as a part-time model and presenter.

So it's little wonder Manchester United's Belfast-born star Jonny Evans was attracted to local lass Helen McConnell when she interviewed him for the club's own channel, MUTV.

The 25-year-old former Belfast Wellington College pupil and sports studies graduate from the University of Ulster caught Evans' eye and the pair began dating in 2011. They will tie the knot today at Clough Presbyterian Church, near Ballymena, in a ceremony conducted by Helen's father, the Rev Kenneth McConnell.

The blonde beauty, who is still on the books of Belfast model agency Style Academy, moved to Manchester several years ago with fellow model and close friend Julie Doherty. Helen, a keen sports fan, was a freelance reporter on Irish League games, motorsports, hockey and even fishing while still a student, before landing her dream job with MUTV.

According to the channel's website, Helen grew up watching football and playing the game in the back garden with her two older brothers. The family, including Rev McConnell, are all diehard United fans. Rev McConnell told a local newspaper he had been to see the Red Devils play many times. Helen's brother Nathan is a former Cliftonville and Ballymena United player.

The website states: "Rather than being forced into loving football and Manchester United, it came naturally to her and so from a young age Manchester United was the only team Helen knew anything about."

As a life-long fan of the club, she attends every home game and travels to as many away games as possible. Given her close connections with the club, she has formed friendships with several Man Utd WAGS, including Wayne Rooney's wife Coleen. She is also a good friend of Shauna Muamba, wife of retired Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a heart attack during a match last year.

Shauna will miss today's nuptials but sent good luck messages via Twitter. Shauna wrote: "I want to see loads of pictures. You're gonna look and feel beautiful. Really happy for you."

Style Academy boss Tracey Hall said Helen will be a stunning bride. She said: "Helen is a very popular, bubbly, sporty girl, who joined our books when she was a Sunday Life cover girl finalist in 2004. Although she's not tall enough for catwalk, she is a very popular choice for photographic work because she has a great face. She fronted one of Victoria Square's early spring/summer fashion campaigns for billboards, modelling everything from maxi dresses to lingerie to swimwear.

"She was also one of the 'Morganettes' for Captain Morgan's rum. You have to be pretty confident to do that because you have to put on a US accent and get up and dance. So I wasn't surprised to hear she was presenting for MUTV.

"She's still on our books but has obviously been very busy recently. Though, after the wedding, I'm expecting a flurry of bookings for her."

The former hockey player runs three times a week and does regular 10k events.

On her MUTV biography, however, she admits to one weakness – an "unhealthy obsession" with a fast food outlet. "When I first moved to Manchester I was eating 3-4 a week, but try to limit myself to one a week now," she says.

Belfast Telegraph


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