Toby Green - Rochdale AFC’s inspirational young winger

PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 February 2015

Toby Green

Toby Green

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This remarkable boy hasn’t let anything stop him making a name for himself as a dazzling winger, writes Roger Borrell

The first thing that strikes you as you watch Toby Green racing down the wing is what a promising young footballer Rochdale have on their books.

But ten-year-old Toby is special in another way, a way those even quite close to him might never have suspected. Toby was born with a condition that means his left forearm is missing.

Tony’s soccer skills have been attracting interest since he was five and the bedroom at his family home in Audenshaw is packed with trophies.

Word got around that he was a prolific goal scorer and one of his first competitive matches attracted four professional scouts. And they just kept coming.

Manchester City had a long, hard look at him but decided he was too small. However, Manchester United took a shine him and he spent two years training with the cream of the area’s young football talent.

Eventually, United decided he wasn’t ready to sign a contract but other clubs continued to pursue him and he was snapped up by Rochdale.

Remarkably, all through this time his teammates and coaches had no idea he had a problem with his arm. One of the United coaches admitted he had watched Toby closely for six months and had no idea he had a prosthetic arm until the lad took a bad tumble and needed treatment on his shoulder.

Proud mother Liz Green said: ‘Before he was born, we had no idea there was a problem so it came as quite a shock.

‘He has a big brother who is very protective but we had no intention of wrapping Toby in cotton wool. When we went to the clinic and saw other children with similar problems they all seemed withdrawn and sheepish. That wasn’t going to happen with Toby. We wanted to help him to be outgoing and confident.’

Toby certainly matched his parents’ aspirations but as he grew he needed replacement arms for cosmetic purposes and anyone who has used the NHS for this service knows it can be hit and miss.

One he received last year was definitely not what he’d hoped for. ‘I could tell it was uncomfortable and he wasn’t happy with it,’ says mother-of-three Liz. ‘He was quite upset which is unusual for him and one day he threw down the arm and said; “It looks more like a leg.” As a mother, I felt I’d let Toby down.’

Liz took Toby to the private London Prosthetic Clinic and was fully prepared to break the bank for a top quality cosmetic limb. ‘The consultant heard that Toby was a fantastic sportsman and told us about a foundation back home in Lancashire that could help with the cost.’

Regular readers of Lancashire Life will recall that Tom Church, a highly promising young cricketer from Parbold, set up his own charitable foundation after friends and family helped him to buy a ‘bionic’ leg.

His career with Newburgh Cricket Club looked over after losing a leg in a car accident. However, the high-tech Genium leg has allowed him to resume his passion for cricket and he and friends now raise money for youngsters with similar needs.

Computer technology was used to create a perfect new cosmetic arm for Toby – even the skin tones which are a perfect match. ‘It looks fantastic. Toby is so pleased with it he has a nickname for it – call calls it his Rolex!’

Only time will tell if Toby makes it as a professional footballer. ‘According to the FA, there is nothing to stop him,’ adds Liz, whose husband Jason runs a plastering business.

‘If you show a child that anything is possible you can help them to have that determination to do amazing things.’

Toby joins Tom at the party

Toby Green and Dean Canny, another recipient of the Tom Church Foundation, joined guests at a glittering first anniversary ball at Kilhey Court, near Wigan.

The evening raised a magnificent £20,000 to help more youngsters fulfil their dreams. One of the organisers, Lindsay Carr, thanked many of the businesses, including Kendals, of Manchester, who provided an array of prizes for a charity auction.

If you want to help the fund or find out more about its work go to you can find out more at www.tomchurchfoundation.org

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