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Ex-footballer Francis Benali hits £1m fundraising goal


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Cancer Research UK

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Francis Benali said “it was the best news to wake up to”

Former footballer Francis Benali has reached his £1m fundraising goal after completing five Ironman triathlons inside a week.

He swam 12 miles, ran five marathons, cycled 560 miles and burned almost 61,000 calories during his challenge.

The ex Southampton captain, 50, said: “There were some pretty tough days but this just puts the icing on the cake.”

The challenge was his third and final in a bid to hit the £1m target in aid of Cancer Research UK.

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Cancer Research UK

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More than 1,000 people turned out to welcome the former Saints defender home to Southampton

Mr Benali, who ended up in hospital at one point during the test, said: “It was the best news to wake up to this morning. I’m very, very pleased and emotional – it’s absolutely incredible.

“I just can’t thank everyone enough that’s supported the challenges in some shape or form. It’s all about trying to bring a cure for this awful disease and find better treatments.”

He started the challenge in Manchester and finished in Southampton, his home city, where more than 1,000 people turned out to cheer him home.

Mr Benali chose to fundraise for the cancer charity as his family and friends have been affected by the disease.

Michelle Mitchell, of Cancer Research UK, said: “I would like to congratulate and thank Franny for his phenomenal achievement.

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Cancer Research UK

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A petition has been launched calling for him to be given a knighthood

“We have been in awe of his incredible determination to reach that goal since he started out on the first of three physically demanding challenges five years ago.”

In 2014, he ran to all 20 Premier League stadiums and in 2016, ran and cycled to all Premier League and Championship grounds in two weeks.

A petition has been launched calling for Mr Benali to be given a knighthood.



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