When Stacey Freeman steps out to face Stockport County in one of many largest FA Cup video games in Stamford’s historical past this weekend, he’ll look as much as the sky and bear in mind his buddy who was killed on an evening out.
The previous actuality TV contestant wears a white wristband in reminiscence of Connor Saunders, who died from head accidents after being attacked on the street.
“We performed soccer collectively, went to the identical faculty, shared the identical pals,” says Freeman, who broke down in tears when he appeared within the E4 actuality present Shipwrecked in 2019.
The 28-year-old defender desires to encourage males to open up about their emotions.
“You do not truly say how a lot you’re keen on somebody till they’re gone,” says Freeman, who is about to line up for Northern Premier League Division One Midlands facet Stamford at Edgeley Park within the fourth qualifying spherical on Saturday.
“It had a huge impact on our lives within the buddy group.”
Freeman, a former mannequin and physique double, says males speaking about their feelings is a energy – not a weak point.
Earlier than showing on actuality TV, he struggled to open up however says the present taught him to talk out about his emotions.
“By no means bottle issues up and really feel comfy being you,” he says.
‘I did not care about crying on TV’
“I grew up boxing with older brothers. I understand how to deal with myself however there I used to be crying on tv.”
Freeman is recalling the second he broke down on the set of Shipwrecked, the present set on the pristine seashores of the Cook dinner Islands that includes duties, eliminations and blazing rows.
He had been tasked with sending two folks residence and needed to determine who to select.
“I used to be crying as a result of these folks have been having a very good time and I had linked with them,” he says. “I used to be considering to myself ‘I have been crying for a stable 15-20 minutes and it will be on nationwide TV’.
“I wasn’t scared how I might be portrayed. Being on Shipwrecked unlocked part of me I by no means knew existed.
“It made me realise I’m an emotional particular person. What’s the issue with crying and exhibiting your feelings?
“Previous to the present I struggled to open up. Rising up, I attempted to be a troublesome man. I might break up with a woman and never be bothered.”
Freeman’s buddy Connor was tragically killed by only one punch in Brighton in 2012. He was 19. 9 years on, former Lewes, Eastbourne Borough and Whitehawk participant Freeman will get emotional speaking about him.
The wristband he wears throughout matches options Connor’s initials and favorite shirt quantity – in addition to the variety of lives he saved by donating his organs.
“He made the selfless resolution on the age of 16 to turn into an organ donor. Due to that he saved 5 lives,” says Freeman.
“Each single recreation I say slightly prayer in my head for Connor.”
‘I used to be punched within the face’
Six years after Connor’s passing, Freeman was assaulted whereas on an evening out in Brighton.
He was celebrating together with his team-mates at Lewes after studying he was about to be provided a contract with Stevenage following a trial on the League Two membership.
The contract didn’t materialise. Freeman suffered an ankle harm through the incident in 2018 which required prolonged therapy.
“I used to be devastated on the time,” he says.
Freeman, who studied criminology at college in the USA, provides: “Somebody referred to as my title and as I turned I used to be punched within the face.
“A police officer who intervened landed on my ankle. I wakened the subsequent morning with my foot the dimensions of a rugby ball.
“A number of days earlier I had performed an in-house recreation for Stevenage and bought a cellphone name from the recruitment officer saying they have been going to supply me one thing.
“The supply by no means got here.”
|Stamford’s FA Cup run started on 7 August with a 2-0 win at Oadby City in entrance of 60 followers within the further preliminary spherical. Their 5 wins to succeed in the fourth qualifying spherical embody a 2-1 victory at Telford – who play two tiers above.||Boss Graham Drury is in his third spell in control of the membership, who’re nicknamed the Daniels. He guided them to the primary spherical in 2016-17 after beating Wrexham – from three leagues above – within the fourth qualifying spherical earlier than shedding 3-0 at League Two Hartlepool.|
|Three of their 11 objectives in FA Cup qualifying have come from winger Cosmos Matwasa, who has attracted from golf equipment at a better stage. Stamford have earned at the very least £16,944 in prize cash from this season’s run.||Stamford’s crew consists of 40-year-old defender Jon Challinor, who helped York Metropolis win promotion to the Soccer League in 2012. He additionally performed in York’s FA Trophy last win over Newport at Wembley the identical season.|
‘I am without end grateful’
Freeman emerged from Shipwrecked with 1000’s extra Instagram followers and a modelling contract that took him to Cape City, South Africa, for 3 months.
Ex-reality TV stars have warned in regards to the impression of being on a actuality TV present can have on psychological well being.
Freeman, nonetheless, says his 5 weeks on Shipwrecked proved a “life-changing” expertise as he realized to open up about his emotions.
“It taught me gratitude and a lot about myself. For that I am without end grateful,” he provides.
Two years on from the programme being aired, he has no plans to look on actuality TV once more.
He has since moved from the south coast to Lincolnshire to be together with his girlfriend, Terri. The couple have introduced their engagement, whereas Freeman has stopped modelling to focus on operating his recruitment company specialising in development and engineering.
His newest membership Stamford – who play within the eighth tier of English soccer and are the final remaining crew that began this season’s FA Cup on the further preliminary spherical stage – is a world away from the Cook dinner Islands, the place Freeman chased fame and fortune.
“I’ve put all that behind me,” he says.