By Nick Lough
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Middlesbrough FC goalkeeper Victor Valdes surprised Key Stage Three pupils from Egglescliffe School at MFC Foundation’s ‘Shoot For Success’ modern foreign languages event held at the Riverside Stadium.
Hosted by MFC Foundation, the official charitable arm of Middlesbrough Football Club, the former Barcelona goalkeeper used his linguistic skills to help teach the students about his home town, while answering questions about his own experiences of learning a new language.
Valdes also presented the students with certificates of participation for the day, as well as signing a few autographs and taking pictures with the delighted class.
On learning English and the understanding different accents, Valdes said: “Some guys in the team have asked me whether I had English lessons before I came to Middlesbrough.
“I told them that I like watching my favourite movies back again but in English, and put on subtitles in Spanish, so maybe that’s the reason I had a good level of English before I came here.
“When I moved here and my children have gone to school and studied English, I am very proud when they speak in English with their friends they have a Northern accent.
“I like it very much!”
Egglescliffe pupil Joe Harston, 13, said about the visit: “Victor seemed a really nice guy, and it was great to see someone who doesn’t have English as a first language who now can speak fluent English.
“It gives us no excuse for us to not learn languages at school.
“It was crazy seeing him and meeting him in person after seeing him out on the pitch in matches. I had a really good time at the ‘Shoot for Success’ event!”
MFC Foundation’s Education Coordinator Ruth Watson said about the event:
“I think today was absolutely brilliant.
“The teachers and the kids got so much out of it, and to have Victor here this afternoon was a phenomenal experience.
“For them, that’s something they’ll remember right the way through their life, so hopefully we’ve made languages an important thing for them and something they can now see a fun as well as interesting.”