FOOTBALL Association chairman Greg Clarke handed over one of his prized possessions to Ascot United, saying: "You deserve it more than I do," writes Dave Wright.

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It was an England No. 6 shirt signed by Harry Maguire following their World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia in Russia last year.

To loud applause, Clarke made the presentation when officially opening the 3G pitch at the Racecourse Ground last Thursday.

Explaining how he got the shirt, he said: "I was fortunate enough to go to Russia for the World Cup and the (England) team said they would like to give a gift to those who came with them for the whole trip.

"So I got a shirt which was embroidered with Croatia and the date of the game signed by my favourite player of the tournament Harry Maguire.

"As a personal gift, I would now like to give it to the club. You deserve it more than I do."

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Clarke, who resides in Virginia Water, added: "I have lived in this area for 25 years and Ascot United have always been at the heart of the community, bringing kids together not just to learn football, but also gain social skills and confidence, and grow up to be decent adults.

"Coming to clubs like this is one of the best parts of my job."

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The FA chairman was joined by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead's Deputy Mayor Gary Muir, along with representatives of those responsible for providing the substantial funding, which included the Premier League and the Football Foundation, as well as those involved in the whole project, right from the planning stages through to the completion of the pitch.

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Harrison also acknowledged the assistance of Simon Wood who "got us through mountains of paperwork – as he did when this clubhouse was constructed 10 years ago."

Last week's function was also attended by officials from the Berks & Bucks FA, Combined Counties League and Surrey Youth League.

During the evening, much praise was heaped on Ascot chairman Mike Harrison and his fellow directors for all their tremendous work in seeing the new pitch brought to fruition.

The guests were told the directors "did not shy away from difficult financial and operational decisions" while Harrison thanked all those club members for "putting up with me and allowing me to lead this fantastic football club."

He also expressed his gratitude to the officials of Ascot Racecourse for their assistance and support.

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