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England stopper Joe Hart backs Worcester's Matt Burton in fight against cancer
8:43am Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
ENGLAND goalkeeper Joe Hart has given a cancer sufferer the goal of facing him in a penalty shoot-out as inspiration in his fight against the disease.
Manchester City ace Hart, aged 26, laid down the challenge to 20-year-old Matt Burton, from Worcester, when the pair met ahead of England’s 3-2 win over the auld enemy, Scotland, at Wembley last night.
The pair came face-to-face as the Premier League keeper dedicated his performance in the match to Mr Burton, as part of a fund-raising initiative by the Football Association in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
And Hart was so keen to take on the Worcester man that he even gave him a pair of his boots to practise in, branding him “truly inspiring”.
“In his 20 years, he has battled against the odds,” said the star.
“What I find extraordinary is how Matt retains his zest for life and sense of humour during difficult times.
“His courage, drive and independent spirit are truly inspiring.
“One day, when his legs are stronger, I look forward to Matt returning to St George’s Park to face me in a penalty shoot-out.”
Matt, who met the football ace at England’s training camp at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, vowed to return and face the stopper.
“He was so chatty and he even challenged me to a penalty,” said Matt, who has soft tissue sarcoma and is receiving intense chemotherapy treatment for tumours on his legs and chest.
“Unfortunately, my health isn’t up to scratch at the moment so I promised to come back once I’m better and take him up on that.
“He said he’d wait for me, and in the meantime gave me his boots so I could practise.”
Meanwhile, Strensham teenager Mikey Grimmett was also at the FA base, where he met Steven Gerrard.
And the 13-year-old, who has leukaemia, had a “huge effect” on the Liverpool and England skipper.
“I was honoured to meet Mikey, he’s a lovely young lad,” said the 33-year-old, who was making his 103rd appearance for England last night and dedicated his performance to Mikey, a Liverpool fan.
“For someone so young to battle against cancer with such determination is a lesson to us all.”
During their visit, the pair also got to meet other Three Lions heroes, including Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere, as well as manager Roy Hodgson.
The visit was part of the Football Association’s bid to raise £300,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust during its 150th year.
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