Former England defender and Diabetes UK supporter Gary Mabbutt MBE received an honorary degree from the University of Bath this summer.
The honorary Doctor of Health degree was awarded in recognition of Gary's distinguished footballing career and tireless campaigning to raise awareness of diabetes.
After joining Bristol Rovers in 1979, Gary transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in 1982, and made his international debut for England later that year. As Spurs captain for 11 years he played in over 600 games, winning both the UEFA and FA Cups in 1984 and 1991 respectively.
The footballer was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 17 when he was told he would have to give up football. Instead, his amazing sporting achievements are a clear reminder that diabetes need not act as a barrier to success at the highest level. He is an honorary Vice President of Diabetes UK.
Many other well-known names were keen to share their congratulations.
Five-time gold medal winning Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave said: “I know from first-hand experience the dedication and application required to pursue a career in top-level sport while living with diabetes. So for Gary to have played so many games for Tottenham Hotspur and England after being diagnosed aged 17 is nothing short of remarkable.
I congratulate Gary Mabutt not only on this honorary degree but his many years as a great ambassador and inspiration for all those in the diabetes community.” Steve Redgrave
Ben Coker, Southend United captain, added: “When I was diagnosed with diabetes, my first question was ‘Can I play football on Saturday?’ But growing up and knowing about Gary Mabbutt made me realise that I probably could. Nowadays there are a few pro footballers with Type 1 diabetes but Gary has been an inspiration for so many of us over the years. I’m very glad to see he’s being honoured like this.”
- Actor and former professional footballer for Turkey’s Altay FC Jonsel Gourkan, whose one-man stage show, Keep Calm I’m Only Diabetic, mentions Gary, said: “Gary Mabbutt was a huge influence on my life and helped me progress in the game ever since I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 12. His book Against All Odds was such a great motivational tool to show me that it wasn't always me against the world when facing this condition. Mr Mabbutt has set a benchmark and this is why there is hardly any ignorance shown towards Type 1 in professional sport in this day and age.”
Photo of Gary courtesy of University of Bath