A BRADFORD chairman who enriches the life of those with disabilities has been selected as part of England manager Gareth Southgate's Lionhearts team.

Southgate and Phil Neville joined up with captains Harry Kane and Steph Houghton as well as star strikers Marcus Rashford and Nikita Parris for a celebration of everyday heroes.

Akbar Khan, who works for Bradford PHAB at the Mappa Building, is one of 23 selected by a panel who felt his work is an inspiration to the nation.

Akbar was described as a "vital pillar for members of the community" by the FA, having volunteered at PHAB for almost 40 years.

His family first became involved through his two brothers, who suffered from muscular dystrophy. 

They sadly passed away but Akbar has remained involved ever since, eventually becoming chairman.

The role means he arranges inclusive activities for club members, such as flying lessons, abseiling, rock climbing, archery and theme park trips to name a few.

Since the lockdown and introduction of tight virus restrictions, Akbar set up daily Zoom meetings and arranged events such as talent nights, bingo, quizzes and competitions to keep all of the members in touch.

He also helped organise twice-weekly food parcel deliveries to members of the club as well as getting support from Bradford's restaurants and supermarkets.

The Lionhearts initiative, supported by BT, pay homage to 23 inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond during this challenging time for the nation.

Following a number of nominations for Akbar, he was selected by the panel and awarded shirt number 16 in the special squad.

The FA reported that Akbar was "left speechless" when he picked up the phone to Southgate.

"It's amazing, I'm a bit speechless,” Akbar told Southgate.

"I just did what I had to do to keep our club going and our community connected. I tried to provide activities for everyone and keep them fed and watered during these difficult times.

"I just felt it was my duty to do that, because I've done it for such a long time and they're an extended family to me.

"It's been a pleasure to help them out and keep them happy. We've always wanted to give something back because PHAB Club supported our family during a difficult time for us."