Former Sunderland star gets MBE from King - and quizzes him on England v Wales game

Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, after being made a MBE by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, after being made a MBE by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. (Image: PA)

Former Sunderland football star Gary Bennett was given an MBE by King Charles on Tuesday as the ex-player pressed the King on who he wants to win tonight's England v Wales game.

The former player graced the pitch at Sunderland between 1984 and 1995, making 443 appearances for the club as only its second ever black player.

Bennett also played for Darlington, Manchester City, Cardiff City, and Scarborough before hanging up his boots in 2002 to work as a coach and manager.

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While playing for Sunderland he took a key role in the Show Racism The Red Card campaign, an organisation he later become a patron of.

The Northern Echo: Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. The award was for services to anti-racism in football.
The Northern Echo: Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. The award was for services to anti-racism in football.

Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. The award was for services to anti-racism in football. (Image: PA)

On Tuesday (November 29) morning he was honoured with an MBE from King Charles III for services to anti-racism in football.

But Bennet also used the opportunity to press the monarch on who he would be supporting in Tuesday night's England v Wales World Cup tie.

Speaking at Windsor Castle Bennet said: “I was able to have a three or four-minute chat with him so that was fantastic, around football and especially tonight with the England vs Wales game, it sort of put him on the spot.

The Northern Echo: Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. The award was for services to anti-racism in football.
The Northern Echo: Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. The award was for services to anti-racism in football.

Gary Bennett, Patron of Show Racism The Red Card, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King Charles III at Windsor Castle. The award was for services to anti-racism in football. (Image: PA)

“I did ask who he’s going to support really in the game between England and Wales, I think he just wanted a good game of football.”

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On Thursday Bennett will receive his second honour in a week, as he’s set to return to the Stadium of Light – but not to make a comeback on the pitch.

He will collect an Honorary Degree of Arts from the University of Sunderland in recognition of his outstanding achievements as a footballer, coach and anti-racism advocate.

The Northern Echo: Gary Bennett at Sunderland University, where he will collect an Honorary Degree on Thursday (December 1).
The Northern Echo: Gary Bennett at Sunderland University, where he will collect an Honorary Degree on Thursday (December 1).

Gary Bennett at Sunderland University, where he will collect an Honorary Degree on Thursday (December 1). (Image: SUNDERLAND UNIVERSITY)

Gary said: “It was an idea that came from the North East – actually from a Newcastle supporter – and at the start only half a dozen people were involved.

“Now we have offices in England, Wales, Scotland, and we’re known all over Europe. Half a million people took part in Wear Red Day this year.

“And Sunderland is a very different place too. It’s a diverse and welcoming city now. But racism is still a problem everywhere, and we’ve got to continue to educate ourselves and others.”

Every year the University confers Honorary Awards to distinguished people in recognition of their outstanding achievements. He will collect the award alongside hundreds of students graduating at the Stadium of Light this week as part of the University’s winter awards.

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