World of Sport

Everton’s Naismith: ‘Soldier’s letter changed my life’

World of Sport

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Everton forward Steven Naismith says a letter from a British solider in Afghanistan has changed the way he sees life.

In 2011 the Scotland international, who was playing for Rangers at the time, was in recovery from a serious knee injury when he received a letter from a supporter expressing sympathy with his plight.

The fan was a soldier serving for the Black Watch 3rd Battalion in Afghanistan – and the context was not lost on Naismith, who was humbled and embarrassed by the experience.

Naismith replied and later met up with the soldier to express his gratitude.

“He was basically saying that he was gutted that I was injured and he was thinking of me,” Naismith told The Times. “I couldn’t really believe it at first. I found it incredible that this guy was out fighting for the country and he was thinking about me going for a knee operation.

“That’s when it hit home to me that there isn’t enough done for these men who serve their time. There isn’t enough help. If we can raise awareness about it and play a small part in helping them, I’d be delighted.”

Naismith was giving his support to Glasgow’s ‘Helping Heroes’ campaign, which seeks to recognise employers who help injured war veterans into training and work.

He added that the experience made him realise that servicemen and not footballers are “the proper heroes” in life.

“We’re just bringing an entertainment value to the world. That’s it. These guys have a real job doing real stuff that makes a big difference.

“It’s funny: they’re mad about football like the rest of us, but they don’t realise that what they’re doing means so much to everyone else. It’s amazing.

“Things like that letter play a part. You don’t want to be a bad loser. You want to be a decent guy. For me, what that soldier’s going through puts it all into perspective.

“You can have all the fight you want for your club, but at the end of the day, you still have to realise what it all means.”

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