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6 October 2017

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Cambridge United are pleased to invite Alessio Verrecchia as the Ethos Community Hero of the Day for tomorrow’s Sky Bet League Two fixture with Wycombe Wanderers.

New for the 2017/18 season, and in partnership with Cambridge United's Official Match Ball and Website sponsors Ethos, each match day will see an individual rewarded for their contribution to sport in the community as the Hero of the Day.

As well as featuring in the match day programme and on the Club's online channels, the Ethos Community Hero of the Day will also be given the opportunity to present the official match ball to the referee ahead of kick off.

Read Alessio’s inspiring story here:

Hey guys my name is Alessio, I'm 20 years old and I play with and help to run the Cambridge over 16 cerebral palsy football team.

I didn't have the best start to life, I was in and out of hospital for the first few years and had a kidney transplant at the age of two. My first introduction to sport was in 2002 when I competed in the British transplant games, the games are an annual event which lets children and adults who have either donated or received an organ, with the main aim is to get more people to sign up to become organ donors. I continued to go the games until 2005 and have now gone to each of the past four years.

I was happy growing up and didn't let anything stop me doing what I wanted, unfortunately my legs got tighter and tighter to the point that surgery was needed.

In November 2009 I underwent reconstructive ankle surgery as well as getting my hamstrings lengthened. The recovery was long and tough, I spent three months in a wheelchair then had to learn how to walk again but gradually things got better and my mobility improved massively from where it was before the operation.

After the operation I started to fall more and more in love with football. I started playing with my brothers in the back garden, with my friends at school, I started to support Arsenal and go to London with my dad and brothers to watch them.

Over the next few years life was pretty good, but yet again I had another obstacle to face, my transplanted kidney gradually deteriorated and I was eventually put on the transplant waiting list, amazingly it was just over a week before we got the call that a kidney was available. On the 13th November 2012 I received my second kidney transplant. So now with everything sorted nothing could stop me.

My dream was to one day play for a team of my own and just play football on a regular basis.

I found the Cambridge United cerebral palsy session about two years ago. I emailed Phil Mullen (Disability Sport Officer) who runs the session and he invited me to come along, I haven't looked back since then.

The sessions consist of kids and adults of all ages and abilities playing football and having fun. As I went to more and more sessions I found my football improved, I made more and more friends and my responsibility within the group increased. Now along with my friends Simon and Fraser, I help run parts of the cerebral palsy session and will hopefully gain my level one coaching certificate.

I now hope the group continues to grow and grow and for us to have our first competitive match in the near future.​

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