On Sunday May 13, 2018, one of English football’s most successful footballer of recent times hung up his boots after a glittering 19-year playing career.
Michael Carrick has won everything you possibly can at the top end of club football, so it was fitting that his last outing – in which he captained Manchester United – ended in victory against Watford at Old Trafford.
Despite bringing down the curtain against the Hornets, the midfielder’s time with United is far from over as he prepares to step into the role of first-team coach, where he will work alongside manager, Jose Mourinho.
Although he lifted 18 trophies in his 12 exemplary years of service, one of Michael’s proudest days in a United shirt came in June 2017 when over 70,000 fans packed into the Theatre of Dreams for his Testimonial match.
On what was an extraordinary afternoon, made even more emotional following the Manchester Arena bombings a fortnight beforehand and the London Bridge atrocity which occurred the previous night, a Manchester United side drew 2-2 against a Michael Carrick All-Star XI.
All proceeds from the match were distributed to a selection of charities through the Michael Carrick Foundation.
In total, £1.5 million was raised from the event, an incredible sum in which people’s generosity really touched Michael.
“Obviously with ticket sales, and with it being on your head, putting a game on it’s quite nerve-wracking and daunting to see if people will actually turn up,” he said.
“When we first set out, we were thinking £750,000 would have been amazing and, in the back of our minds, we were thinking if we could get to £1million that would be incredible.
“But then to see the final amount, was really something special.”
The former England international set-up his foundation in 2017 to ‘deliver opportunities for children to feel safe, valued and inspired to achieve so that they, can make the best of their life and fulfil their full potential’ – something, he explains, has always been close to his heart.
“As a kid I was at the Wallsend Boys Club and I was lucky enough to play there on my doorstep. For quite a long time I’ve always wanted to give something back to the Boys Club and help them in some way.
“But as time has gone on, I have obviously come to Manchester and had my Testimonial, which raised a lot of money, and I had the responsibility to help the kids in Manchester.
“That’s where the idea (for the Foundation) came from though, my childhood and my time at Wallsend and seeing all the closure of teams, clubs and facilities for young kids. That’s what spurred me on to try and help in some way.”
Society has changed a lot over the years, with technology now a big part of everyday life and anti-social behaviour on the up, there’s less children out playing football and getting the exercise they need.
Michael is well aware of the differences now to when he was kicking the ball about on the streets of Wallsend and views it as another motivation to get as many kids as possible involved with the Foundation.
“I think it’s a shame, but it’s just the way of the world now,” he said.
“But I feel it’s only right and fair to kids to give them the chances, especially ones that are in areas where they don’t get as much for many different reasons.
“To put three sessions on for them, the football is kind of the hook if you like, but that’s not really the main thing. There’s a lot more to it, trying to help these kids that are having a hard time. Football is heading it up, but that’s not really what it is all about.”
Although his own experiences as a kid on Tyneside were the inspiration behind kick-starting the Foundation, becoming a dad to daughter, Louise and son, Jacey only increased Michael’s motivation to help other children in need.
The five-time Premier League winner has also endeavoured to get them involved with the projects.
“I’ve taken my kids down to Trafford Barn where we set up the project in Manchester,” he said.
“They came along to that and really enjoyed it. It’s good for them to see, getting to hang around with the kids and they are interested in getting involved with the things we are doing.
“It does help the motivation when you have children of your own and you see children suffering a little bit, if I can help in some way I definitely will.”
When it comes to help, Michael has a great team around him to help him run the Foundation on a day-to-day basis.
But – just exactly as it was when he was playing – the now first-team coach explains he will get directly involved as much as time allows.
“Time-wise I’ll still be busy, but regardless of whatever role I was going on to do, I wanted to give the Foundation a lot of attention, as it’s a real priority of mine.
“When I originally set-up the Foundation, I wanted to give it my full attention. I didn’t want to do it half-heartedly, or walk away and let someone else run it. But of course, I have a lot of help, by any means I’m not on my own at all, but I’m trying to give it as much time as I possibly can.”
Michael admits the time he has spent thus far both overseeing and participating in projects – the latest of which has seen his Foundation team up with Newcastle United’s for Carrick’s Kicks! – has been very rewarding.
— Newcastle United FDN (@NU_Foundation) June 12, 2018
“I am heading up the Foundation but it’s not all about me. There are trustees and many people that have put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
“Raising £1.5million brings a lot of responsibility all of a sudden, so for all of us that have put in the hard work is rewarding.
“Seeing the kids smiling and happy, leaving their home lives at their doors and coming along and enjoying themselves for an hour or two – to see that come to fruition is very rewarding.”
As Michael’s representative, Skillequal’s David Giess played a key role in organising his Testimonial and help with the Foundation on a daily basis.
And the United legend stalwart expresses his gratitude to the man he met as a 17-year-old at West Ham United.
“He’s been a huge help,” said Michael.
“I’ve been with David now ever since I can remember. He’s been a massive part and massive help for me, he was a huge support with my testimonial and I think he done Mark Noble’s as well at West Ham so he had a bit of experience with what it’s all about.
“He’s always been there for me, I trust him and that’s the biggest thing for me. As a player, to have someone alongside that you can trust, is a massive thing.”
So although we’ll see Michael in the United dugout rather the midfield from now on, off the pitch, the Foundation provides a fresh challenge with new goals, which will help inspire children in real need.