A SAINTS legend is celebrating having raised more than £1m during gruelling challenges for a charity close to his heart.
Dedicated Cancer Research UK campaigner and Southampton father-of-two Franny Benali has raised £1,335,900 in donations across three ultra-endurance challenges.
The latest donation follows a gala ball to celebrate the 53-year-old’s achievements in which he ran over 1,000 miles to every Premier League ground in the UK in just 21 days in 2014, ran and cycled to 44 Premier League and Championship grounds over a fortnight in 2016 and then attempted seven Ironman triathlons in seven days in 2019.
Yesterday, his achievements were celebrated at CRUK’S Clinical Trials Unit in Southampton with family and friends.
Benali - made an MBE - said there were "a few reasons" that inspired him to take on these challenges and push himself to the limit.
"It was to hopefully raise a huge sum of money for a fantastic cause," he explained.
"We've been touched by cancer as a family, friends have been diagnosed with cancer as well, so we wanted to raise money for a great cause that could potentially help people in the future.
"And also finding some barriers for myself and finding out what I was capable of."
He added: "It's been a pretty long and epic journey in many ways.
"The money that we have managed to raise was a lot harder than I first thought.
"I know it's a huge sum but I didn't think it would take over three challenges and three gala dinners to get to this point.
"It's been an incredible journey and me and my family are eternally grateful for everyone's support."
He thanked his family, friends, support team, and those who have made donations and supported his challenge.
Joining Franny in his celebrations was Professor Tim Underwood, Cancer Research UK scientist and professor of gastrointestinal surgery at the University of Southampton, and Peta Durrant, head of operations at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit.
Peta said: "This funding is of extreme importance to us.
"Without this funding, units like ours wouldn't be able to offer the research that we do.
"We wouldn't be able to find new, innovative, world-leading ways to change the future of cancer treatment for patients."
Prof Underwood added that funding like this is "unbelievably important".
"We rely on charitable donations and charitable giving for the vital work that we do.
"Cancer Research UK is the single biggest funder of cancer research in the world. "