At the start of a major week for the Three Lions, Wayne Rooney arrived at St. George’s Park early so he could make Uzair’s wish come true as part of the ongoing partnership between the England Footballers Foundation and children’s charity Rays of Sunshine. Uzair, aged 10, is living with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and brought his Mum, Uncle and Cousin along to share the experience at the England training base in Staffordshire. Uzair came prepared, and as well as quizzing his hero, they shared some time playing cards together.
“I’ve been here today with the England Footballers Foundation supporting Rays of Sunshine to meet Uzair and had a game of cards with him,” said Wayne. “He asked me a lot of questions about what it was like being a professional footballer and how I take free-kicks. It’s great to meet him and is great for us when you see the smiles on the kids’ faces. We get a lot of joy out of that.” He continued: “The Foundation was set up seven years ago and the players donate our match fees to the charities and donate our time as well. A lot of that isn’t seen, but we go to meet a lot of kids.”
Wayne’s meeting with Uzair came prior to linking up with the rest of Roy Hodgson’s squad to begin preparations for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland. He says both he and his new friend are excited about the games ahead – “Everyone is, the whole country is. They are massive games and for us and as players it’s exciting. These are great games to be part of. We need to make sure we get the six points to qualify, so there is a lot of pressure, a lot of expectation. We have to go and do it now.” He added: “When you meet the kids, we really get a lot of pleasure out of it. We had heroes when we were young, so if I had the opportunity to meet them I know how it feels. It’s great to be on the other side and go and make someone feel good. We’re in a privileged position where we can help in that way.”
And when asked what he thought about his special day, Uzair beamed: “Awesome! I made my wish in the hospital and they’ve made my wish come true and I’m really happy.”
The players are all enjoying the partnership with Rays of Sunshine, being able to make these children’s wishes come true and helping to put smiles on the faces of the wish families.
For further information on the England Footballers Foundation visit www.englandfootballersfoundation.com and to keep up to date with the latest Rays of Sunshine wishes go to www.raysofsunshine.org.uk