Rochdale Football Club is delighted to announce that Peter Vincenti is the first recipient of the Sky Bet Football League’s Unsung Hero of the Month Award.
He has received the award in recognition of his charity work for Edgars Gift and for going the extra mile in order to strengthen the club’s links with the local community.
The 29-year-old, who has been at Dale since the summer of 2013, has no obvious connection with the family of Leicester City supporters who lost their son to a rare form of muscle cancer in 2010, yet nothing perhaps illustrates the caring side of the first recipient of the award better than that. Vincenti offers his time, compassion and generosity to people he has never met.
The midfielder was playing for Aldershot Town when a request was passed to him for a signed shirt and ball. It came from Julie and Neil Bradford whose son Ben Edkins was just 25 when he succumbed to rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive form of muscle cancer.
Vincenti obliged, sent off the items personally and set in motion a train of communication that led to him becoming a Patron of Edgars Gift, the charity set up in Ben’s memory which provides unique experiences or gifts to young adults aged 18-30 who are suffering from cancer.
“They do all sorts for young adults suffering from cancer. Special days out, luxury gifts such as an iPad or a PlayStation for those who are going through it,” said Vincenti.
“They raise money where they can. They did a cycle to all 92 Premier and Football League grounds in the country a couple of years ago.
“They are the ones who do so much. It wasn’t any bother for me to send them a signed shirt when I was at Aldershot, but then we got in touch with each other and it went from there.
“I sent them some more signed shirts, then a few Rochdale shirts when I moved here. And whenever we’ve played against bigger teams in pre-season or cup games I’ll always try and get opposition shirts. The kit man here, Jack Northover, gives me grief because I’m always asking him to get me signed shirts from the opposing kit man to send to them,” smiled Vincenti.
He has also donated tickets to watch England at Wembley to be used as a gift for one young cancer sufferer. He helps out where and when he can, but it his willingness to being involved in the process that sets him apart.
And while Vincenti, who is extremely modest, is delighted to have received the award, he has also admitted to being a little embarrassed to be receiving plaudits.
“Getting this award kind of contradicts itself if you are trying to be unsung," laughed Vincenti. "I know there are a lot of footballers who do a lot outside their clubs and not just because they are asked to. They do it voluntarily and don’t want anything for it.
“Footballers are in the spotlight a lot, maybe not League One footballers so much, and more often than not it’s for bad reasons.
“As footballers you do have a lot of downtime. I know we don’t work in a nine to five job but the truth is that as a professional sportsman your downtime involves a lot of rest and a lot of recovery from games so it is very inward-looking.
“I was only too happy when I was asked to become a Patron. I find it fairly easy with them. It’s brilliant what they do and they are the ones who do so much. I just like to help who I can where I can.”
Vincenti recently signed a new three-year contract extension with the club, which is further testimony to the impact he has at Spotland and in the local community.
Dale Chief Executive Colin Garlick is adamant that Vincenti makes a difference.
“Peter takes his responsibilities as the club’s PFA representative seriously. We regularly send the players out to the schools through our Community Trust programme. Peter acts as the liaison, sets up the rota and makes sure those things are done.
“He’s easy to work with. I can use him as a sounding board for anything to do with the players. He’s got that character. He’s intelligent, reasonable, an open-minded lad. And if he says he’s going to do something he does it.
“His charity work is typical of his character. He’s quite giving to others and he makes time for people.
“He’s hugely popular with the fans because he makes time for them. You can get closer to the players in the lower leagues but equally some players will rush to get on the coach or flick a few autographs. Peter’s never like that. He makes himself available to the supporters. After games he spends time at the club with his family speaking to supporters.
“The good that players do in the community reflects very positively on the club and we are happy and very proud to be associated with that when a player receives an award such as this.”
Use the click through link to find out more about Edgars Gift.