Meet the unsung hero who will place the FA Cup

Friday 24 May 2024 08:00

If you ask anyone at Manchester United Foundation, they will describe Ronan Duffy as a hardworking, friendly and committed person who is dedicated to enriching the lives of children in our city.

That is why he has been nominated to represent the club at Saturday's Emirates FA Cup final, placing the trophy in its designated position beside the pitch shortly before the Reds and Manchester City walk out under the arch.

At last year's final between the same sides, Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Summerbee took on this responsibility but, after the FA asked for an 'unsung hero' to be nominated, our Foundation could think of none more deserving than Ronan.

Manchester United Foundation chief executive John Shiels says: "Ronan is so passionate about his job and the children. His work always receives great credit.

"He works so hard, he is always very patient and attentive to the children’s needs.

"Ronan is totally reliable, with a can-do attitude, and it is great that he will be getting this opportunity. We are all very proud of him."
Ronan is a primary school officer at our Foundation and dedicates his time to helping future generations in Manchester.

Ronan first started with our Foundation in 2009 as a casual coach, gaining a full-time role within the education department in 2014.

Four years later, Ronan became a delivery officer in the partner primary school department, helping to develop and improve the wellbeing and life skills of children ages five to 11 across Greater Manchester.

Ronan also works evenings at the Street Reds community football programme and Ability Counts inclusion programme, continually going above and beyond to help others with great passion and commitment.

"Whatever programme I’m working on, every day is different, it has its own challenges and its own rewards, so you never get stale, you never get bored," he explains.

"You can see from working with people in the community how appreciative they are of the work we do – we get to see children grow and develop and become great people, who are so thankful for you helping and guiding them.

"To see their progress and journey with the Foundation means a lot.

"To just be part of that team makes me proud. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a hobby, a passion, and it’s really enjoyable to progress year-on-year and see the whole department grow.

"The Foundation has helped me develop as a person; I’ve received opportunities to enhance my professional career, but also received perks like going to games. But I just love giving the kids I work with opportunities – times are hard, so just a little prize, a football, or book bag, even tickets to games, I love seeing them get to live a dream."

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Walking out at Wembley with the FA Cup trophy in your hands would be a dream for anyone associated with football. While expressing his gratitude for this opportunity, Ronan says it also reaffirms to him that he is doing his job well and making a difference to children's lives, which is the most important thing.

"When I found out I’d been nominated to walk out with the FA Cup, I thought: ‘I’m just doing my job’, but I am really proud and my family are too.

"It’s a great opportunity to walk on the pitch at Wembley in front of 90,000 fans, and I’m just grateful.

"I’ll probably be petrified on Saturday, but it’ll be a good day out and it’s exciting.

"It just shows that if you work hard, you’re dedicated, and believe in yourself, you’ll go far. Opportunities will come your way, just from doing what you love – don’t give up, keep trying your best, that’s all you can do."

Read more about the impactful work Manchester United Foundation do in Greater Manchester by visiting their website.


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