HRH the Duke of Cambridge and David Beckham will help launch The Football Association’s 150th anniversary year in London on Wednesday [16 January].
The FA President will welcome 400 guests to the Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn at the start of what will be a spectacular 12-month celebration of English football.
Beckham was one of several of the sport’s greats to contribute messages of support while the star-studded audience will include five England managers and a host of World Cup winners.
The Duke said: “I consider it a huge honour to lead The FA.
"It is an organisation which reaches every community, bringing the simplest enjoyment to people of all ages and all abilities.
“Over 150 years, football has become part of the very fabric of our society and I hope the year ahead will allow us to celebrate every aspect of this great game.”
His Royal Highness paid a glowing tribute to the people that dedicate their lives to football across the country and revealed he was backing a special 150 Grassroots Heroes initiative being organised for later in the year.
He said: “I would like it to highlight the incredible efforts of the 400,000 volunteers that deliver the game week in, week out, up and down the country. The mums and dads, coaches, referees and administrators who give their time to make pitches ready, get organise the fixtures and wash all those kits.
“The Olympics and Paralympics highlighted the spirit of the British people to volunteer, but I know it is something that has always been part of our great game.
“I am delighted that The FA will be honouring this army of volunteers through a special 150 Grassroots Heroes initiative. They deserve our full praise and unstinting thanks.”
Beckham reflected on his own experiences in the grassroots game before touching on the privilege of captaining his country to distinction.
The former England captain said: “Football has been a huge part of my life from a very young age.
“My early memories are getting up early on a Sunday morning with my mum and dad, both of them taking me to Sunday morning football with, first off, Ridgeway Rovers, then Brimsdown and then up to Manchester every single weekend.
“When I speak about playing for Manchester United, I speak about how proud I am to have achieved what I have achieved.
"When we speak about playing for England and wearing the Three Lions shirt in front of a full house at Wembley; it’s the proudest moment an English person can have, stepping out not just as an England player, but stepping out as captain of your country.
"For me, it’s the proudest moment that I have had in my career.”
The FA’s 150th anniversary year will see football’s oldest governing body recognising the 400,000 volunteers, 300,000 coaches and 27,000 referees who give their time every week to the nation’s favourite game.
The FA is a not for profit organisation and reinvests £100m into the game each year.
Main events during FA150
- Sunday 3 February – FA England Awards, St. George’s Park
- Wednesday 6 February – England v Brazil, Wembley Stadium
- Friday 22 March – San Marino v England, FIFA World Cup Qualifier
- Tuesday 26 March – Montenegro v England, FIFA World Cup Qualifier
- Sunday 28 April – 90 years of Wembley Stadium
- Saturday 11 May – FA Cup with Budweiser Final, Wembley Stadium
- Saturday 18 May – Army FA v FA XI celebration match
- Tuesday 21 May – Friday 24 May – XXXVII UEFA Congress, London
- Thursday 23 May – UEFA Women’s Champions League Final, Stamford Bridge
- Saturday 25 May – UEFA Champions League Final, Wembley Stadium
- Wednesday 29 May – England v Republic of Ireland, Wembley Stadium
- June – England tour of Brazil
- Wednesday 5 June – Tuesday 18 June – UEFA European U21 Championship, Israel
- Monday 8 July – 20 years of women’s football
- Wednesday 10 July - Sunday 28 July – UEFA Women’s Euro 2013, Sweden
- Saturday 10 August – National Football Day
- Wednesday 14 August – England v Scotland, Wembley Stadium
- Friday 6 September – England v Moldova, Wembley Stadium, FIFA World Cup Qualifier
- Tuesday 10 September – Ukraine v England, FIFA World Cup Qualifier
- September/October – Celebration of 150 grassroots heroes
- Saturday 26 October – Gala Dinner at the Grand Connaught Rooms
- Thursday 19 December – 150th anniversary of first match (Civil Service FC v FA XI)