James Milner scored a double in Liverpool's 3-1 pre-season win against Bradford on Sunday, however his contribution to the day was a whole lot more meaningful than his performance on the pitch.
It was a highly poignant day for individuals from both clubs as they paid homage to Stephen Darby, someone who came through the ranks at the Reds before having a distinguished career at the Bantams where he was club captain.
Football is so important to so many people, but nothing is more important than your own health and so it proved when the right-back had to retire from the game he loves at just 29 when he was diagnosed with the dreadful terminal neurological condition Motor Neurone Disease.
Milner was one of the main architects in making this day such a special one for all involved donating £30,000 to the Darby-Rimmer MND foundation as well as £10,000 to the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Speaking after the game, the veteran midfielder said it was the least he could do to help.
The Official site reported Milner as saying:
Obviously I’m in a fortunate position to help, we help some great causes and Darbs’s foundation is one of many.
"How he’s conducted himself, how he is going about what he’s done, setting up the foundation, him and Steph [Houghton] together – we obviously want to help as much as we can.
"We’re having another ball this year on December 1 and hopefully we can raise more funds again and some of those will be going to that again.
Milner said the awful prognosis that comes with this sort of disease puts life well and truly into perspective.
"Football becomes secondary. We know how important it is, how much it means to people, how much it changes lives and how happy it makes people.
"You see the parade after the Champions League and what it means to people.
"Maybe when they’re going through hard times football gives them a bit to take their mind off it.
"That’s secondary obviously to everything else and what the disease can do to people and families.
"So, the more money we can raise and the awareness to learn more about it because there’s not too much that’s known about the effects and what can help it.
Milner said the selfless attitude of Darby along with his nearest and dearest is something incredible to witness first hand.
Incredible. I’m proud to know him. Losing his football career like he did, that’s one thing. And then dealing with the disease, having Steph around him, she’s doing incredibly as well – carrying on her football and being there for Darbs at the same time, going through it together.
"(He is) thinking about himself and his family but also thinking about others in setting up the foundation and how it can help other people going forward.
"He is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. It’s unfortunate what happened.
"Today shows how much everybody thinks of him, both the clubs he’s played at and all the people who have come out today.
We obviously wish Stephen and his family the very best during this awfully difficult time, and it also highlights what a special guy James Milner is and how lucky we are to have him at the Reds.
A true professional in Football and in life as well.