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TC and gang are top cats for our appeal launch

09:14 11 November 2009

FORMER West Ham and England footballing legend Tony Cottee proved he was a real good sport when he kicked-off our annual toy appeal for needy children. The Hammers hero and father-of-three proved a big hit with a group of Newham schoolchildren who help

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FORMER West Ham and England footballing legend Tony Cottee proved he was a real good sport when he kicked-off our annual toy appeal for needy children.

The Hammers hero and father-of-three proved a big hit with a group of Newham schoolchildren who helped him launch the campaign at the Hammer's Upton Park ground.

The star was only too delighted to lend his support to what he described as a "wonderful campaign" and pledged to do all he can to help in our goal to get thousands of toys for those Newham children who would otherwise have none this Christmas.

West Ham United also stressed they would do all they could to support our appeal too, which they think is a great cause.

Tony, who in his 20 year playing career won many awards and a number of England caps, played in more than 700 games and scored 306 goals, even said he would donate some of his own children's toys!

Despite a glittering career, the prolific goal-scorer who was once the most expensive player in Britain, has kept his feet on the ground and remained true to his Newham roots.

Tony, 44, was born in Forest Gate Hospital, and as a baby and tot, lived in Strone Road, Manor Park. He began his footballing career at West Ham, where he became much-loved among fans.

Now a West Ham United ambassador and Sky TV and radio football pundit, he said: "My roots are very firmly in the East End, so it's great for me to give something back. I'm a real East End boy."

The star added: "I've got three children of my own. I know what Christmas means to the kids. My children are pretty fortunate.

"I think Christmas is a special time of year for the kids. If I can make people aware in any way to help with this wonderful campaign...anything that helps with the local community and particularly the young kids. Not everyone's as fortunate as we all are."

Said Tony: "I wish the appeal the best of luck and really hope we get to the total. I know it's tough for people at the moment but please give generously."

The group of seven to nine-year-old campaign helpers who came to help launch the appeal were really enthusiastic talking to, quizzing and being photographed with Tony, hearing about his career, and spending time pitch side- even though four of the six children admitted being fans of the Hammers' rival Premiership teams!

The good sport happily signed autographs and was great with the children, who were from Brampton, Nelson and St Michael's primary schools. He told them that as a child, he used to play football against Brampton.

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