Unsung Hero 2019: Five British stars on how volunteers influenced their sporting careers

Unsung Hero is back for 2019, and we want you to nominate your Unsung Hero now - nominations close on Sunday 20 October.

Unsung Hero 2019

From Olympic and Paralympic legends to an international football manager, five British stars share their stories and thank those who have been influential to their careers and achievements.

'I wouldn't be where I am without them'

Hannah Cockroft

A five-time Paralympic gold medallist, Hannah Cockroft holds world records in the 200metres, 400m, 800m and 1500m. She can't "thank volunteers enough" for their support.

"I wouldn't be where I am in my career without volunteers. I wouldn't do the training I do without them. They are literally the beating heart of every single sport and sportsperson you can think of.

"When I think back to my first ever coach, he got me into sport as a junior and got me playing wheelchair basketball. I always sit there thinking I hope he's watching and I hope he's proud.

'The Unsung Hero is brilliant'

Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca Adlington says the Unsung Hero award is "one of the best" things about Sports Personality of the Year. The 30-year-old first broke onto the scene in 2008, winning swimming two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

"The Unsung Hero winner is somebody we know nothing about. They are the first there and the last to leave - it's brilliant.

"I had the most incredible swim teachers when I was growing up who really set me up for that passion. I remember seeing those same guy that were still there 20 years on - and still absolutely loving it and wanting to do everything they possibly can for their clubs."

'The adopted me as their 'child''

Ama Agbeze

Ama Agbeze captained England's netball team to that infamous final win over Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. With exactly 100 caps, she has a host of people to thank for helping her along the way.

"A lot wouldn't happen without volunteers; they are unsung and they put in countless hours.

"I had school teachers who pushed me forward, friends who would drive to see me play, an England coach who put me forward for selection when I was 14.

"Then I've travelled to play in Australia and New Zealand, there are people there who have sort of adopted me as their 'child' and helped support me."

'He put a real winning mentality into me'

Michael O'Neill

Not many can boast that they have both played and managed their national football team, but Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill is one of them. He credits one particular coach for getting him into the sport, and is now seeing first-hand the impact volunteers have on his own children.

"Your first coach in any sport is generally a volunteer, no matter what age you start at. I have two daughters who do various sports, so I know that the commitment of those volunteers, their dedication and also the time they give to the children.

"My first coach was my teacher Sean McLoughlan. He put the real winning mentality into me. He also made football fun and that was the important thing."

'I have total respect for volunteers'

Eddie Izzard

Although not technically a sportsman, Comedian Eddie Izzard is super-fit; in 2016 he ran an astonishing 27 marathons in 27 days.

"Sport in the United Kingdom can't hit this much above our weight without the help of our unsung heroes - I have total respect for volunteers.

"It makes such a difference, it brings kids through and young kids are the lifeblood of any country."

Send your nomination for your local community sport to Unsung Hero before October 20.