Fallen Arsenal idol’s nephew wants to aid boozers like him
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
The teenage nephew of Arsenal and England legend Kenny Sansom has launched a campaign to raise cash for those struggling with the same alcohol problems that plagued his great uncle.
Ben Sansom, 16, has already generated £1,000 for good causes and hopes to bring in a lot more after witnessing his famous footballing relative hit “rock bottom” in his struggle with drink.
Mr Sansom, 54, who played for the Gunners from 1980 to 1988, was rushed to hospital in March after collapsing in an Arsenal-themed pie shop in Holloway Road.
Then at the start of this month it was reported the left-back was homeless – stories which Ben says were exaggerated in some newspapers.
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He said: “A lot of what was written was untrue – like he had been sleeping rough for months. Through his own choice he slept on a park bench for four days. It’s still sleeping rough though – real hero to zero stuff.
“Kenny obviously had problems, but because of who he is he got a lot of help and support from the Professional Footballers’ Association and so on.
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“It got me thinking about how it would be for people outside the ex-footballer, celebrity circuit.
“He was on a bench for four days, but some people sleep rough for six months and get no help. I wanted to try and do something for them.”
Ben set up Support Kenny Sansom, including a Just Giving and Twitter page, and says he has already received a lot of interest.
“There has been plenty of support. One guy has paid £3,000 to have a banner saying: ‘We are with you Kenny’ which should be unveiled at the Spurs vs Arsenal game and will stay all season.
“At the end of the year he is going to auction it off and donate the money.”
All the cash goes to charities the Homeless FA and Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance, partly because Mr Adams “showed so much support when my uncle was ill”.
Ben says after a tough time Kenny, who was capped 86 times for England and lifted the League Cup as Arsenal captain in 1987, is doing well.
“He had problems for a good couple of years,” he said. “All the time there were consultants and experts around, but they said you can’t help him until he hits rock bottom.
“I believe sleeping on a park bench was rock bottom. Help was there before but he didn’t want to take it.
”Now he has been sober for two weeks and I think Crystal Palace have offered him a job, and so has my dad if he stays sober. It sounds simple to us, but it obviously isn’t for him. He shed a tear when I showed him the campaign. He was crying and said he was very proud.”
n To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/nsomSober SportingChance