Manchester United legend Gary Neville made a group of homeless men cry after giving them somewhere to stay this winter.
The ex-footballer is allowing around 30 mainly young men squat in Manchester’s former stock exchange building, which he is developing into a boutique hotel.
Homeless man Wes Hall said: “I love the guy,” after dissolving in tears when he said the former England footballer told him on the phone he would not be turfed out on to the streets.
Hall said Neville gave the go-ahead to stay in the imposing oak-panelled, Grade II listed building in the city centre, after he and others were moved on from other buildings and had to live in tents.
Hall said that while speaking to a developer working on the site on Friday, he was given a phone to speak directly to Neville.
“He handed me the phone, he said: ‘Gary on it.’ He spoke to me, he said: ‘Look, I’ve not got a problem with you staying, look after the building and respect it.’
“I recognised his voice.”
Mr Hall, a Burnley FC fan, continued: “I cried. It’s crazy because my little brother, he’s a Man United fan and I had to spend 10 years of my life growing up in a Man United bedroom because Burnley didn’t do wallpaper so I grew up hating United. Now I love, I love the guy.”
Hall said the news was greeted with tears of joy by other homeless men.
“Quite a few of them were crying too,” he said. “They now have got some form of stability. They’ve never had trust, they’ve never had stability, they’ve never had anyone represent them or speak out for them. Now they are like a family.
“We can actually plan for the next few months. We can actually deliver some serious programmes, we can deliver some workshops.
“We have never had a case where the owner has said: ‘We are not going to pursue an IPO [Interim Possession Order], we are actually just going to let you stay there. It’s beyond belief.”
Hall said the group, made up of around 30 homeless people and 20 activists, have permission to stay until February.
Planning permission to turn the Stock Exchange into a 35-bedroom hotel was granted earlier this year, with former United team-mates Neville and Ryan Giggs funding the project.
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