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İlkay Gündoğan Invites Super Fans to Barcelona

Manchester City’s Champions League winning former Captain, İlkay Gündoğan, made dreams come true – surprising three super fans from Community Integrated Care with the opportunity to watch him play at Barcelona on Monday night and delivering a VIP tour of the club’s training ground on Tuesday. 

İlkay Gündoğan, has special meet and greet with colleagues and people supported by Community Integrated Care.İlkay is a proud Ambassador for our charity. Initially connecting with Community Integrated Care in October 2020 in a bid to support Manchester’s social care services through the isolation of lockdown, the iconic midfielder has become a steadfast supporter – facilitating a number of incredible experiences that have brought hope, joy and excitement to people we support across the city region. This relationship has continued after the star’s move to the Spanish giants, this season.

On Monday, the iconic midfielder made his greatest gesture yet – inviting three of his biggest fans to see him play for Barca, followed by a surprise meet and greet at the club’s iconic training ground.

Kayley Davies from Tameside, Daniel Wilmott from Stockport, and Katie Richardson from Warrington enjoyed the once-in-lifetime experience with their families and support teams. The avid City fans, who are supported by our charity, flew to Barcelona to enjoy two days in the city, seeing their hero line up against Real Sociedad, in a thrilling 2-0 game to Barcelona.

The experience was brought to new levels when they were surprised with an invitation to meet İlkay at Barcelona’s training ground, for an exclusive experience. Collecting autographs, reminiscing about his heroics for City and finding out about his new life in Barcelona, the group loved spending quality time with their favourite player – describing it as “a dream come true” and “the best day ever”

For Kayley, the experience gave her the opportunity to reconnect with a man who has been an inspirational presence in her life – arranging socially distanced visits to her care service during lockdown, inviting her to City games, and arranging for her – and almost 150 other City fans supported by the charity – to enjoy a special party for the famous 2023 UEFA Champions League Final win.

For avid City fans, Katie, who is autistic and accesses personal development programmes with our charity, and Daniel, who has a learning disability, the experience represented an achievement that was beyond their greatest dreams.

John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, said: “This experience truly represented the people we support living their best life possible. The opportunity to fly on a plane, visit a new county, watch an iconic football team and meet your hero would be an incredible experience for any person, but for the people we support to be enabled to overcome the barriers that they face and enjoy these moments was magical.”

“İlkay will forever have the respect and gratitude of Community Integrated Care. He promised the people we support during the most difficult moments of their life, at the peak of the pandemic, that he would stay in touch and support them in happier times. He has truly lived up to that promise in ways that are unprecedented. The fact that he has maintained this relationship with our charity even from Barcelona shows the enduring respect that he has for our teams and every City supporter. We would like to thank İlkay for his efforts in making this experience possible, and the brilliant colleagues from Community Integrated Care who were so dedicated in facilitating this stunning opportunity.”

İlkay Gündoğan said: “It’s been amazing to see the guys from Community Integrated Care again and to see Kayley, Daniel and Katie so happy and smiling a lot. I still feel very connected to the city of Manchester and I’m very happy we could manage that together to bring them to my new city and to show them where I play and work now. They have told me they enjoyed the city a lot. I hope to see all of them again soon.”

Katie Richardson, who is supported by our charity, said: “To me, İlkay is a legend on and off the pitch. I was in total shock when I was told that I was going to Barcelona to see him play. It was even better having the chance to meet him at the training ground – talking about football and all the things that I do with Community Integrated Care. İlkay has changed the lives of so many people who are supported by our charity. I will never forget this experience. He will forever be my football hero.”

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