Former professional footballer ready to tackle plight of former soldiers
He once had the trappings of a professional footballer with thousands chanting his name, but Wakefield-born Lee Crooks is now taking a career path far from the glamour.
The former Manchester City midfielder is desperate to help the homeless by launching a project to raise £150,000 to help former servicemen.
Lee retired from the game in 2008 and famously signed up to join the armed forces two years later, joining the RAF Regiment in his early thirties, simply because he ‘needed a new challenge’.
Having been discharged and now 39, he admits this could be the biggest of challenge of his life.
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Having suffered with depression himself, he wants to help others who have fallen on hard times, particularly soldiers who struggle to adjust to civilian life.
Many are badly affected by their experiences and some end up on the streets.
He said: “I’m looking to get this funding and I will try to find these homeless veterans, find them accommodation, work with them because they may be suffering and hopefully try and get them into work.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for well over a year, I want to help these lads.
“Wakefield is my hometown and I’m proud of that, so I’ll start here but I will go anywhere to help them.”
Lee signed for Manchester City at 16 and began making an impression in the late 90s.
He played at Wembley for the club’s play-off final win in 1999.
Lee added: “When you are playing football you are in this bubble, you are used to having thousands of people watching you then you are on your own.
“But it doesn’t matter what you do for a job, whether you are a footballer, it can affect you.
“When you leave the military, you are forgotten, you have done your bit, and that’s it. A lot of lads get this, and it’s a downward spiral.
“I’m trying to raise £150,000 - for these Premier League lads, that’s a drop in the ocean.
“It puts everything in perspective, this really is about life and death.
“I’m stepping into the unknown, but I will give it my best shot.”
To donate to Lee’s cause, log onto www.crowdfunder.co.uk/lee-crooks-project