ROYAL Naval Reserve (RNR) officer and life-long Chelsea FC fan Tony Matthews lived every football fan’s dream on September 19, when he lifted the Champions League trophy in front of a packed stadium crowd.
Warrant Officer Matthews (WO1), 54, of Lower Range Road, Gravesend, paraded the trophy around the pitch at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Stadium, before he led out players from Chelsea and Italian Champions Juventus, prior to their Champions League clash.
The dad of two was selected by the Royal British Legion Poppy Foundation and the Chelsea Foundation, the football club’s charity organisation, for his work selling poppies.
He said: “Being a lifelong Chelsea fan it was a dream for me to walk out on the hallowed turf and carry the Champions League trophy, especially as Chelsea are the first London club to win the Champions League.
“It was in front of the stand that I used to sit as well and also representing the navy, so two great loves of mine came together.”
This year marks the 30th year of a glittering career in the RNR for WO1 Matthews, the height of which came in 2004 when he was placed on the New Year’s Honours List.
The part-time radio DJ was awarded a Queen’s Volunteer Reserve Medal (QVRM) for his services to the Royal Navy and although a visit to the Palace is an honour he’ll always treasure, he admits that his special night at the home of the European Champions is a close second.
He said: “It’s right up there with being decorated by the Queen, but only slightly just behind it.
“It was a very special evening. To meet the players was great, it was really nice that they took the time to have a chat.”