Footballers remember tragic Sheffield law student

The winners of the 2015 Neil Bennett Memorial Cup.
The winners of the 2015 Neil Bennett Memorial Cup.

Big-hearted soccer players came together on the football field to pay tribute to a tragic team-mate.

Players joined forces for the third annual gathering to remember former University of Sheffield student Neil Bennett who sadly took his own life three years ago.

To remember the law student, who died in July 2012 at the age of 32, his one-time soccer playing mates now stage a yearly tournament to remember him, have fun and raise cash for charity at the same time.

One of the organisers, Pete Hersee said: “Overall it was a fantastic day with plenty of good football on display and many aching legs by the end.”

The event, held at Sheffield’s Goodwin Sports Centre, attracted a string of teams in memory of Neil - also known as Rio for his similarity to former England and Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand.

Neil studied law at the University of Sheffield between 1998 and 2001 and was a regular on the football pitches.

Four teams made up of Neil’s friends, family and colleagues from both Sheffield and law firm Nationwide, came together to battle it out in the charity 6-a-side tournament.

Teams playing included Nationwide, for whom Neil worked, Goodwin, which was made up of university sports staff, Northampton, where he lived, and various intra mural football teams that Rio used to play for and against during his time at university.

In the plate competition, Rio’s former team, Sexual Chocolate emerged victorious, beating Nationwide 6-1 in the final.

Meanwhile in the champions final, Osvaldo Giraldo Juniors took on Geckos and after a tight match Osvaldo sealed a 3-1 win to retain the Neil Bennett Memorial Cup which they won last year.

Added Pete, who thanked those who supplied the raffle prizes: “Overall we managed to raise over £500 for charity which is fantastic.

“The money raised will go to CALM, a suicide bereavement charity, and disabled children’s charity Whizz-Kidz.”

Neil’s parents attended the event at the Sheffield University pitches with his younger brother among those taking to the field.

The Nottingham House pub, Broomhill was the venue for a presentation and drinks in Neil’s memory. Players also took part in a beat the goalie competition.