Legends of Football, are to honour England’s most capped women’s player, Fara Williams MBE and Manchester United’s record goalscorer, Wayne Rooney with the prestigious award at a star-studded event at London’s Grosvenor House on 7th October 2024 in aid of music therapy charity Nordoff and Robbins.

The two-time FA Women’s Super League winner and five-time Premier League winner will be officially unveiled at the event this autumn, joining an esteemed list of recipients including Pelé, David Beckham, Arsène Wenger and most recently, Chelsea FC Women’s manager, Emma Hayes and Arsenal legend, Ian Wright.

On the announcement of her award, Fara Williams said, ‘‘I am absolutely delighted to receive the 2024 Legends of Football award. This recognition means a great deal to me, and I am grateful to everyone who has supported me throughout my journey.

“I’m delighted to be part of a brilliant evening of football and music to support Nordoff and Robbins, they play a hugely important role in improving the lives of people across society through music. Music therapy is such a powerful way of allowing people to communicate and express themselves, and I hope any money raised through the event can continue to support their incredible work.’’

On accepting the award, Wayne Rooney said, “I am delighted to announce that I will receive the 2024 Legends of Football award. The award has been previously awarded to some of the biggest names in the game, to be recognised alongside all of them including some of my teammates, opponents and footballing icons means a lot.

“Throughout my life and career; music has always been a massive influence and inspiration for me, and to see how Nordoff and Robbins use music to help people connect and communicate is truly special. I’m really looking forward to celebrating with Fara for a great night of football, music and fundraising at Grosvenor House on October 7th.”

Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the best night in the football social calendar”, the Legends of Football event is an annual charity fundraising night, supported by the Premier League, in aid of music therapy charity, Nordoff and Robbins. The event has raised a staggering £8.5 million to date since 1997 when John Charles CBE was the first recipient.

Geoff Shreeves, Legends of Football chairman commented, ‘‘‘We’re delighted to be honouring two teenage prodigies who went on to have amazing club and international careers, Fara Williams and Wayne Rooney, both incredibly deserving of the 2024 Legends of Football award.

Fara Williams’ extraordinary career saw her win a staggering 177 England caps, represent the Lionesses at seven major tournaments and play for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. A first team regular at Chelsea by the age of 16, Fara went on to win every trophy the domestic game has to offer at Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal while playing for England for nearly two decades. What makes her story even more extraordinary is that she was homeless aged 17 for five years but still managed to play elite level football.”

“As one of England’s and Manchester United’s greatest players, Wayne’s trophy laden career is truly legendary. From breaking onto the scene at Everton aged just 16 to amassing every possible winners’ medal at Old Trafford and overtaking the great Sir Bobby Charlton to become the clubs most prolific marksman.  Wayne Rooney is without doubt one of the greatest players of the modern era and a footballing legend.”

Fara Williams broke onto the scene in the 2000-01 season scoring 30 goals for Chelsea aged just 16. The following year Williams signed for Charlton Athletic where she clinched both the club’s Player of the Year and FA Women’s Young Player of the Year Award in her debut season.

In 2004, Williams moved to Everton where she spent eight years, earning the nickname ‘Queen Fara’. At Everton she won the League Cup and FA Cup before moving to city rivals in 2012 winning consecutive Women’s Super League titles in 2013 and 2014 at Liverpool. In 2016, Williams won her second FA Cup with Arsenal, the same year she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to women’s football and charity.

Between 2001 and 2019 Fara Williams amassed an astonishing 172 appearances for England, representing her country more times than anyone else. Williams played at seven major tournaments, captained England to the 2009 European Championships final and was part of the team that finished third at the 2015 World Cup.

Wayne Rooney made his professional debut with his boyhood club Everton at age 16, becoming the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history, before moving to Manchester United two years later. In 2006–07, he helped lead United to his first Premier League title and the following season he was a key contributor to the club’s Premier League and Champions League double, followed by the club’s first FIFA Club World Cup championship, with Rooney scoring the only goal in United’s 1–0 win in the final.

In 2010, Rooney was named both the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and went on to win his fifth and last Premier League title in 2013. In January 2017, Rooney scored his 250th goal for United, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton to become the club’s all-time leading scorer before returning to Everton six months later having won 16 trophies during his 13-year United career.

Rooney made his England debut aged 17 becoming both the youngest player and the youngest goalscorer in England’s history and played at six major tournaments including a starring role at Euro 2004. In 2014, Rooney was named England captain and a year later scored his 50th international goal, breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s longstanding record. Rooney retired from England duty in 2017 with a total of 53 goals in 119 international appearances.

Sandra Schembri, CEO, Nordoff and Robbins, said: “We’re incredibly excited to honour the remarkable careers of Fara Williams and Wayne Rooney at this year’s Legends of Football event. Music and football are intrinsically linked, and Legends of Football is one of the best nights of the year as the two worlds join together for a night of fun and fundraising. On behalf of Nordoff and Robbins, I’d like to thank Fara, Wayne and everyone involved in the event for their hard work and dedication – every penny raised goes directly towards our music therapy delivery, helping us to create space for people to express themselves and connect with others through the power of music.”

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