Fundraising legend Captain Sir Tom Moore has become the first member of our Lionhearts squad, after a special visit from Three Lions icon David Beckham.
The 100-year-old captured hearts during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising more than £32m for NHS Charities Together by walking laps of his garden after initially setting a target of £1,000.
With swathes of call-outs made for Captain Sir Tom once the Lionhearts nomination process had opened, he was duly inducted as our honorary captain in light of his heroic efforts.
The Lionhearts initiative aims to pay homage to 23 inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond during this challenging time for the nation.
In the absence of international football this summer due to the postponement of UEFA EURO 2020, England’s focus will instead be on building a squad of true heroes that have stepped up during our time of need.
So it was fitting for former England skipper Beckham to pass on that first baton of acknowledgement during a personal visit to Captain Sir Tom’s Bedfordshire home.
The deadline for Lionhearts nominations closes on Sunday 12 July, but the World War Two veteran was an early inductee as a fitting figure to symbolically lead this special group of people.
And who better than Beckham, who won 115 caps across a 13-year England career, to meet with the record-breaking centenarian to offer congratulations on his achievements to date and to formally honour him as a Lionheart on behalf of The FA.
"I’m delighted to have been chosen to captain this incredibly special squad of Lionhearts," said Captain Sir Tom.
"It was wonderful to meet and learn more about the initiative from David and I’m looking forward to sharing the inspirational stories of my team - something the whole nation can be proud of."
Beckham added: "It was such an honour to meet Captain Sir Tom, and to thank him on behalf of The FA for his incredible fundraising achievement to support our NHS.
"He really is a national hero and I can't think of anyone more deserving to captain the Lionhearts squad."
The Lionhearts initiative was launched with the support of BT, lead partner of the England teams, last month and nominations can be submitted until 11.45pm on Sunday 12 July – the day UEFA EURO 2020 should have reached its climax at Wembley Stadium.