Organisers of a new legacy fund set up in memory of professional footballer Dalian Atkinson are hoping to raise £1 million to offer every youngster across Telford & Wrekin an equal chance to take part in soccer and sport.

The Dalian Atkinson Legacy Fund has been set up by his family in partnership with Shropshire Community Foundation to celebrate Dalian’s lifelong passion for sport. The former professional footballer died in 2016 at the age of 48.

The top flight player was brought up in Telford and his talent as a forward was spotted at just 17 when he was recruited by Ipswich Town. His speed, skill and flair on the pitch saw him move to Sheffield Wednesday in 1989 and on to Aston Villa in 1991 where he quickly became a favourite with the fans.

One of his most memorable moments came in 1992 when he scored a stunning solo goal against Wimbledon which was later voted as Aston Villa’s “Goal of the Decade.” Dalian retired from professional football in 2001 but was always remembered for his dynamic playing style.

Dalian’s family now want to celebrate his lifelong passion for sport and its positive impact through the Dalian Atkinson Legacy Fund, which is being managed by Shropshire Community Foundation.

The fund aims to provide opportunities for all young people, from ages 5 to 25, across Telford and Wrekin and surrounding areas, to have equal access to participate in football and a range of sports.

Telford & Wrekin Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia have already donated £10,000 each to kickstart the legacy fund. Shropshire Community Foundation has now launched a fund-raising campaign with the aim of boosting the fund to £1 million.

Selina Graham, Deputy Lieutenant for Shropshire and Chair of Trustees at Shropshire Community Foundation said: “We are proud to be collaborating with Dalian’s family and so many amazing clubs and individuals.  Dalian is no longer with us in person, but his legend lives on and this legacy fund will improve the lives of others in his name for many years to come.  It is a wonderful thing to do, to remember someone by helping others.

“We believe that football can empower young people to navigate life’s challenges and become thriving members of our community. We hope the Dalian Atkinson Legacy Fund will inspire and support local young people aged 5-25 to further their sporting talents and achieve their own goals and dreams,” she said.

Dalian’s memory has already been marked with a memorial bench at Trench Pool in Telford where Dalian grew up and first started honing his football skills. It was unveiled in a private ceremony on March 20 to mark what would have been Dalian’s birthday.

Businesses and individuals who would like to donate to the Dalian Atkinson Legacy Fund can find out more at

Dalian Atkinson playing for Aston Villa.