When one of your side’s key player misses a weeks’ worth of training, and a match against one of the league’s top sides, fans may feel frustrated at the misfortune. However, supporters of VVV-Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie were universal in not just accepting, but praising the absence of forward Lennart Thy for their side’s game against PSV Eindhoven back in March. The reason? Thy’s withdrawal from training and the matchday squad could have had life-saving implications.
While playing for Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga seven years prior, the German forward donated his DNA as part of a way of potentially helping a leukaemia patient in the future. Fast-forward to 2018, and with Thy now playing for VVV-Venlo, the forward’s DNA was shown to be a match for someone battling leukaemia – and the player decided to donate blood to make a stem cell transplant possible.
Thy’s remarkable selflessness was rewarded with the man of the match award by PSV Eindhoven – despite his absence – and his act also helped raise awareness, with the mascots for that particular game walking out onto the field wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the message: “Follow Lennart, become a stem cell donor.”
The forward’s humbling altruism has seen him honoured with the 2018 FIFA Fair Play Award.