Reds legend getting in the swing for Nugent Care

By Simon Hart

Phil Thompson has a quiz question: which two lads from the same town captained different teams to European club football's biggest prize in successive years? The answer, he explains, is himself and Dennis Mortimer. "Dennis was two years older than me at Brookfield Comp in Kirkby, so you had two European Cup-winning captains – Aston Villa for Dennis and Liverpool for me – from one small town. It's quite a trivia question."

Thompson, you suspect, could talk football all day. Yet the former Liverpool and England defender, who lifted the European Cup as Reds skipper in 1981, is on the phone to the Pic to discuss something altogether different: Nugent Care, the Merseyside-based charity he serves as a patron. As with his Dennis Mortimer teaser, it was a Kirkby connection – an old friend, Pat Heron – who got him involved following his departure from the role of Liverpool assistant manager in 2004.

"After I got sacked in 2004, Pat said, 'Seeing as you've a bit more time on your hands would you fancy becoming patron?' and I said, 'I'd love to'. I started looking at what Nugent Care was and it was quite astonishing how big it was. It was the oldest charity on Merseyside and I thought, 'How have I not heard all the good that it does for everyone from young children to old-aged pensioners?',"

Thompson knows all about it now and he highlights the newly launched Gubay Crisis Fund as a notable example of Nugent Care's work with disadvantaged families and individuals in Liverpool Archdiocese. "Within 24 hours they can be ready to help families in distress," he says. "It's a wonderful fund because it helps people immediately." If this is a consequence of the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation donating £20,000 per year for the next three years, Thompson plays his own part in raising funds for the charity's different services via the Annual Phil Thompson Golf Classic.

This year's event will take place at Houghwood golf course in Billinge on 18 May, and the 63-year-old says: "It has proved a massive success with anything between 18 and 23 teams regularly playing and us raising a lot of money." For those participating, the day runs from breakfast through 18 holes of golf to a three-course meal and after-dinner speech from one of Thompson's old Anfield pals. "I ask one of my ex-colleagues to do the after-dinner speaking, and Alan Kennedy, John Aldridge, David Johnson and Phil Neal have all taken part."

One of the prizes up for grabs, he adds, is a trip to Sky Sports' studios to see him in action as a pundit on the Soccer Saturday show. "I always give a prize of a day out at Soccer Saturday. It's the whole experience – photographs on the set with Charlie Nicholas, Paul Merson, Matt Le Tissier and our presenter Jeff Stelling."

It may rule out Saturday trips to his beloved Anfield but Thompson's involvement with the show is something he savours. "I often wonder how it works with four ex-footballers watching a match on a monitor telling you what is happening and making it exciting. I think people see a lot of themselves in us. It's four guys talking about football, which is what you do in the pub – different characters winding people up and taking the mickey out of each other." There should be plenty of that too at Houghwood golf course on 18 May – all in a good cause.

For more information about the Phil Thompson Golf Day 2017, call 0151 261 2000, email MDuckworth@nugentcare.org or visit: www.wearenugent.org/fundraising-events/