Millwall’s Tony Craig admitted it was “a humbling experience” to visit the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey last week, writes John Kelly.
Craig is making a donation from his testimonial at The Den against Brentford on July 30 to the Centre, which treats injured members of the British Armed Forces.
Millwall have a connection to Headley Court since a home game with Brentford in November 2014 when the players wore a special one-off camouflage kit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
Craig spoke to a number of soldiers at the Centre on a tour through the hydrotherapy and neurological units and the gym. He was also shown around the prosthetic workshop, where a prosthetic leg can cost up to £45,000.
“It was a humbling experience and a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Craig said. “It opened up my eyes.
“I learnt an awful lot and I’m so proud and pleased they want to be a part of my big day. Walking around, you’re sometimes speechless – the people here are smiling, happy and get on with things. There’s a lot of people who moan out there and you come here (and realise) we’ve got nothing to moan about. It was an eye-opener and I enjoyed being there.
“The most striking experience was speaking to the servicemen and hearing some of their stories. To see how they made the prosthetic legs and arms, and the cost is unbelievable. I’m so pleased I can donate to a good cause.”
Craig’s grandfather, Doug Craig, served in the British Army, but the current Millwall captain never thought of following in his footsteps. Instead, he chose football, and he has now been rewarded by the club for ten years of service.
“When I was younger, all I wanted to do was be a footballer,” Craig explained. “When I was fifteen or sixteen it didn’t look as if I would be one. I won’t lie, I did do a carpentry course. To have the career I’ve had so far, I feel very honoured and very lucky. I’ve sacrificed a lot and there are a lot of people I’ve got to thank who I will be thanking.
“It was a no brainer (to donate to Headley Court). It is a charity close to me and close to everyone. It’s great to have a cause like that.”