Leeds United's Stuart Dallas surprises muscular dystrophy fundraising hero
A star Leeds United fan and fundraiser has spoken of the "incredible" moment his family's favourite player surprised him on a video call.
Martin Hywood had been expecting to talk to Adidas about Leeds United merchandising when Stuart Dallas appeared on screen to chat.
Muscular dystrophy sufferer Martin, 47, has raised £180,000 over the last seven years for research into his condition.
Dallas, 29, praised Martin's efforts and extended a personal VIP invite to him and his family to Elland Road when safe to do so.
Dallas said: "It's a call to say we appreciate all the charity work you have been doing.
"A massive thank you from us - not just from my point of view - but I know how much it means to all the boys that we have the support of fans like you."
Martin was visibly moved during the phone call, saying it "boosted" him after a tough year of shielding.
Leeds posted a four minute video to their social media accounts but Dallas spent most of his lunchbreak chatting to Martin.
Dad-of-three Martin said: "He spoke my daughter's on call and spoke about his family to our youngest and she was loving, it was just brilliant.
"If you've seen the club previously and the state it's been in then to get things like that happen, it just makes you so proud, it's just fantastic."
The two swapped stories of life over the past year, with Martin even revealing that his ran over Manchester United player Paul Pogba's foot with his wheelchair while at the flagship Adidas store in London's Oxford Street.
But Martin stressed that, as much as he loved the call, moments of recognition are not why he fundraises.
"The fundraising charity work is so families don't go through what we've been through as a family and what we do go through as a family on a daily basis the.
"The idea behind what we do is to make people aware that these conditions affect children, and some of them don't see 16 years old."
Martin has three daughters - Lucie, 26, Olivia, 15 and Skye, 10.
Over the years, Martin has been backed throughout his Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) fundraising efforts – which have included a series of mile-long walks and other challenges – by his fellow Leeds fans.
And despite the Covid pandemic, last year Martin raised £28,000 - his highest annual total since he started fundraising.
Martin added: "The majority of the money has come from Leeds fans that once again, and it's just incredible.
"I had no expectations of fundraising when this pandemic came about, and to then go on and raise £28k in a pandemic when things are tight for everyone, it's crazy.
"I'm extremely grateful for what it does for people."
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.