THE founder of a junior football club in Bradford has been honoured with an award by the FA for his work as an unsung hero of football.

Mohammed Waheed founded Alpha United Juniors FC in 2013 with his friend Humair Shahid to improve the lives of youngsters in the BD7 – Little Horton – area of Bradford.

Over the past four years, Mr Waheed has seen the club grow to include sides at different age groups, a girls’ section which has reached double figures, and scores of volunteer coaches and managers.

Plans are also in the pipeline to start a disability football group at Alpha United Juniors.

To recognise the hard work Mr Waheed, 30, puts into the football club, his friend Mr Shahid nominated him for an FA Respect Award.

Mr Shahid said his friend had “opened the door” for their whole community to get involved in football.

He said: “Mohammed has created a safe and positive environment, when there was none in the area.

“The area is known for the wrong reasons yet he established the club and makes this available to all the children to enjoy football on a weekly basis.

“We now have almost 200 people involved in what he has created. He attracted groups from the black and minority ethnic community and opened doors for kids from Eastern European, African and Asian backgrounds who could speak little or no English.

“Mohammed has shown leadership within the community to make a positive impact by teaching kids about fairness and their commitment to be a success at whatever they are doing.”

Mr Waheed was invited to Wembley Stadium in London to receive the award, which was presented by FA chairman Greg Clarke.

He also had the chance to meet other people carrying out similar work across the country, got the chance to visit the Royal Box, and watched England take on Slovakia in the World Cup qualifiers.

It is the second time he has visited the national stadium to pick up an award, after winning a FA Charter Standard Club of the Year award in 2016. Mr Waheed said it was “an honour” to receive the award.

“It was a humbling experience for me, but also paid tribute to the hard work of all our volunteers and juniors,” he said.

“We went to Wembley – I have been a few times now so its starting to feel a bit like a second home!

“Every time I have been it’s one of those experiences you never forget, and getting to watch an England match, meet other wonderful people, Greg Clarke, and Gordon Taylor was amazing. We were also staying in the same hotel as the Slovakia team and the West Indies cricket team, which was surreal.”

Mr Waheed said the club was still looking to grow.

“We are always taking new players on and looking to expand,” he said. “We are a community club for the children, we were the first to set up in the area and the first from Bradford to win these awards, so we are into unchartered territory now.

“Receiving these awards is a great honour for me but I just want to keep the work going.”