Former England football captain Stuart Pearce says he is in awe of Mose Masoe for the way he is handling his career-ending and life-changing spinal injury and is thrilled to become an ambassador for a newly-established foundation in his name.
The 58-year-old former Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, West Ham and Manchester City footballer is a huge rugby league fan and has been following Warrington since becoming friends with then coach Tony Smith, who is now in charge of Masoe’s current club Hull KR.
Pearce visited Masoe, who has been diagnosed tetraplegic following a freak accident in a pre-season friendly in January 2019, during his rehabilitation at a specialist spinal care unit in Wakefield.
“When I first met Mose in hospital I was immediately struck by his demeanour and his complete positivity,” he said.
“Even then he was determined to help others. He was talking about how he was going to push himself to be walking out of the spinal unit as soon as possible and how he wanted to support and inspire the others in the unit at the time as him.
“I just looked at him in complete admiration and wonderment. He’d just been told his life had been forever changed and there was not one ounce of self-pity. He was completely positive.”
Despite support from the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, Masoe and his family are facing the prospect of being left hundreds of thousands of pounds short of what they need to live in some form of comfort, even after an expected insurance payout.
Super League has devoted the Easter programme of matches to the Mose Masoe Foundation, with fans able to buy virtual tickets, and Pearce is happy to play his part.
“I really believe that the sport is under-valued in our country and the players’ bodies take the most punishment of any sport alongside boxers and jump jockeys,” said Pearce, who has also witnessed the game come together to support former Leeds half-back Rob Burrow in his fight against motor neurone disease.
“The rugby league community is an example to all other sports,” he added. “It’s tremendous.
“Obviously I’ve lived a life in football and I often wish my sport had the same qualities and togetherness across the sport as rugby league does, from the very top players right down to the grassroots clubs and kids.”