Benali humbled to receive Freedom of Southampton

By SFC Media time Wed 16 Nov Club

Saints legend Francis Benali has today received the Honorary Freedom of Southampton in recognition of his remarkable charity work.

The 47-year-old was presented with the award following a unanimous vote at a special City Council meeting in the Civic Centre.

Benali, who made 389 appearances for Saints, was put forward for the honour following the completion of his two epic challenges that have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.

The first, in 2014, saw him run almost 1,000 miles between all 20 Premier League clubs, while his latest effort, which took place this year, saw him run a marathon and cycle 75 miles each and every day over the course of two weeks, as he visited all 44 top-flight and Championship grounds.

Speaking to after receiving the Honorary Freedom of the City, Benali said: "It's incredible. I didn't expect the kind of ceremony we experienced, but to hear such very kind words from various members of the council and to be here with my family to experience that as well is a very humbling and proud day for me.

"As a boy born and raised in the city, I had dreams and ambitions to play football one day, and to represent this incredible football club and city as I did for many years was something I will be forever grateful for.

"I've always tried to fly the flag for the football club and the city in a positive manner and show that I would never give less than 100 per cent in anything I try to do.

"Hopefully that inspires and motivates people that see that from me. It'll just drive me on a daily basis, looking at the certificate at home, to try to continue to do some positive work."

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