David O’Leary takes charge of our legends team for the first time on Sunday as we continue our quest to help young people around the world via The Arsenal Foundation.
Our game against Milan Glorie in 2016 helped to raise £1 million to build football pitches around north London and internationally, and this year’s double-header with Real Madrid will allow us to add to that work.
“This white ball can influence so much and do so much,” said O’Leary. “We know what this white ball can raise, and it’s about doing good with that.
“I think it is important because football can be so influential. We’ve seen what [some kids] have to play on and we’ve seen how the money can improve that and what a difference it makes to those people.
“I think the most important thing is to follow that up and show people that it’s not just a gesture, it’s something that people want to do going forward. You should feel good doing it because we’re so lucky.”
O’Leary is our record appearance maker - playing 722 times for the first team - and he hasn’t ruled out the prospect of pulling on the red-and-white shirt once again.
“I’m not tempted to pick myself but I could be forced into it!” he said. “I think I could play and I’d probably go with a tactic of playing behind a double sweeper with a trench down the middle of the Bernabeu. I think I’d get through it then!
“It is a fun group, it’s great to get everybody back together and it’s great that the club wants to keep these legends involved. It’s a great way of doing it and raising money for great causes. When the players do come here you want it to be a fun, enjoyable experience so they go away and want to come back again - because there will be a next one.
“The proof is in the pudding because people are turning up in their thousands to watch it.”