FORMER England striker John Fashanu cannot wait to be reunited with ex-Wanderers forward Dean Holdsworth and make his Reebok Stadium debut next month.
The 51-year-old has not played for four years but is dusting off his boots to lead a team of Wimbledon legends, like Holdsworth, against a star-studded former Manchester United XI that includes Premier League winning stars such as Paul Scholes, Bryan Robson, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke on Sunday, May 18.
The fundraising Reebok clash is all in aid of autism charity Hearts and Minds Challenge, and Fashanu, whose 18-year-old son suffers from a similar condition, was only too happy to get involved as a patron of the charity set up in 2010.
The aim of the Hearts and Minds Challenge is to build a free school for autistic children aged three to 11 years old.
Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News from his home in Nigeria, Fashanu said: “Hearts and Minds Challenge is a charity I am very passionate about.
“My own son has challenges with a similar condition to autism, and the charity does a lot of work to help families and provide education and support.
“They are looking to raise £1 million to build a new centre of education for autism and this game is about helping towards that.
“I had a chat with Scholesy, who is also involved with the charity, and we came up with this idea of getting some legends back out on the pitch — what better way for us to do our bit than get out there again.
“It promises to be a great day. United have legends like Robbo playing and we have got people like Dennis Wise, and Vinnie Jones is coming back from America.
“The response from all the ex-players has been amazing. I think the world of football will shudder when we get back out there and mix it up. We may be older now but once we cross that white line, it will be just like the old days again.
“I haven’t played for four years but have been training and will be ready — don’t worry about that.
“I hope it’s a great day for the fans and hopefully we can get a good crowd at the Reebok and raise a lot of money.”
Fashanu has lived in Nigeria for the past eight years focusing on his post-football career as a television presenter.
But he is relishing the chance to get back to England and out on the pitch with some old friends and foes and to make his Reebok debut.
He added: “I never got the chance to play at the Reebok.
“I did play at the old Burnden Park and that was a historic place.
“It will bring back a few memories of the old Crazy Gang at Wimbledon — they were the best days of my life.”
The Legends game kicks off at 3pm on Sunday, May 18 and tickets are priced £10 for adults and £5 juniors.
For ticket details visit heartsandmindschallenge.org or the ticket section of Wanderers’ website at bwfc.co.uk