“The other day me and my girlfriend, we just went to Hana Hana for some food and as I was pulling up there was a guy kind of falling out of his wheelchair. So obviously I went over and helped him and his wheelchair had broken, one of the wheels had snapped off so I was trying to fix that. It was raining, it was freezing, it was about 8 o’clock at night. I couldn’t fix it. I felt really bad because he was with his girlfriend or wife, I think she was pregnant too, I felt really bad for him so I thought ‘Okay, I’ll try and get him in my car and I’ll give him a lift home.’
“It was only in Gateshead where he lived. I lifted him up but I think he’d just had an operation – he didn’t have any legs. I tried to lift him but it was too painful for him. My car’s quite high up so I didn’t know what to do, so I said ‘Come inside the restaurant’. I got him a few drinks, I was chatting to him and I rang him a taxi that could take people with wheelchairs. That came, I got him in there and said ‘I’ll get you a few tickets’, I gave him my gloves, gave him £20 for the taxi. I felt sorry for him. When it comes to things like that I’ve got a proper soft spot. He’s battling on, he said he had to push himself 30 minutes back to his house!
“It just makes you wake up and think we’re in a really fortunate position as footballers, we get things handed to us – obviously we’ve had to work hard to get ourselves to this situation, but he went to work one day and his legs were blown off. It gets me annoyed about this ankle, I can’t train, but he’s wheeling himself around Newcastle with no legs. I added him on Facebook and we’ve exchanged a few messages. I’m going to give him a few tickets.
“I do have a soft spot for things like that and he was the nicest guy ever. I think he was about 27, he lost his legs when he was 24. It just makes you think about how fortunate we are as footballers, we don’t have anything to moan about, at all. He was an ex-marine. I think he was out in Afganistan, I think he stepped on a mine I think. He lost his legs, but his upper body is so strong because he’s always wheeling. It was only 10-15 minutes out of my time. I was on the way into the restaurant, to me it’s not a big deal. To him it probably is.”