Welwyn Garden City football manager's still in the game

NEWS that he had a debilitating and deadly illness put sports-loving Del Deanus on the sidelines. But as a football manager, he turned round the fortunes of a struggling local club while researching a book on motor neurone disease – the condition which he

NEWS that he had a debilitating and deadly illness put sports-loving Del Deanus on the sidelines. But as a football manager, he turned round the fortunes of a struggling local club while researching a book on motor neurone disease - the condition which he is fighting. Simon Wesson reports

AS a young footballer Del Deanus had the world at his feet.

He had made the cut at England International Schoolboy level, playing alongside future stars of the game such as Ryan Giggs and Nick Barmby.

But within a few injury-plagued years, Del, who started at Spurs and also played for Fulham reserves and Wycombe Wanderers reserves, was forced to quit the sport he loved, due to a back injury, aged just 26.


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Determined to continue his love though, two years later he went on to coach and maintained his healthy lifestyle, being a regular down the gym.

A couple of years ago, aged 34, he was fit enough to complete the Flora London Marathon. But a few months later Del's life took a sudden turn for the worse.

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And in February 2008 it was confirmed he had the terminal illness motor neurone disease (MND).

Del, who lives in Lockleys Drive, Welwyn, told the WHT he first noticed signs down the gym, when he lost the "strength on one side" of his body.

After a while, on different occasions, he began twitching, which he described as "a bit like fishes swimming underneath my skin".

Now 35, Del struggles to walk and is "praying" the nerve, brain and spinal cord condition does not spread to his chest, preventing him from breathing.

Undeterred, however, Del, took over Welwyn Garden City FC last November and has transformed the Citizens from relegation strugglers to a mid table side in the Spartan South Midlands League.

He said even though he believes his illness was connected to the sport, he would not give it up as long as his health let him continue.

"I make the most of every day I've got.

"Football's been my life since I was 10 years old, so I don't want to give up what I love," added Del, who got married last May.

The next focus for him is to complete his book, in which he exploring the link between sport and MND.

** A CELEBRITY all-star mystery football team will be facing the winners of an upcoming charity tournament organised to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

WGC Football Club co-manager Del Deanus and MND sufferer has organised the event on May 16.

The winners of the World Cup style competition will play a team comprising of pros, former pros and stars from EastEnders and The Bill.

Aiming to raise at least �2,000 for to the North and East Herts MND Association, Del told the WHT it is a way of thanking the group for everything they've done.

"They've supported me in all sorts of ways - with absolutely everything.

"They're brilliant, this is just to say thank you for them and to raise awareness."

The event at the club's Herns Lane stadium kicks off at noon. There will also be a raffle and an auction with a signed pair of John Terry boots, along with signed Watford and Tottenham Hotspur shirts, up for grabs.

Entry to the tournament is �100 per team, with a maximum of 10 players per squad.

To enter call Del on 07779024438.

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