José Mourinho and his first-team squad were out in force this week as he attended his first United for UNICEF Gala Dinner as manager of Manchester United.

The 17th annual event took place at Old Trafford on Monday 31st October and raised a fantastic £215,000 for Unicef, the world’s leading children’s organisation.

Offering fans the chance to rub shoulders with their footballing heroes, the black-tie event is the highlight of the club’s social calendar and was this year hosted by Premier League and MUTV presenter Mandy Henry and BBC Sports presenter Mark Chapman.

The auction was hosted by Key 103 DJ Darren Proctor and offered guests the chance to bid on a number of exclusive prizes; the star lot being an invitation to a ‘Top-Secret Day Out’ with the full Manchester United first-team.

All funds raised from this year’s dinner will go towards Unicef’s vital work in Thailand, to support education programmes for children with limited or no access to schooling. In Thailand, 25% of children do not start school; the quality of education is often poor and those who do complete their schooling often leave lacking the skills needed to secure employment.

Children who remain out of school are the most marginalised, disadvantaged and have the poorest life chances, but an empowering education can break the poverty cycle. With access to quality education, every child has the chance of a better life for themselves and their communities, with less poverty, better health and an increased ability to take their future into their own hands.

Manager José Mourinho helped to raise thousands of pounds by auctioning ‘The Mourinho Collection’, consisting of his signed, worn adidas hoodie, training top and the scarf he held high as he was unveiled as the manager of Manchester United on the Old Trafford pitch. He also offered a very generous last minute lot: his very own watch. The collection of items raised over £30,000 alone.

Mourinho said, “Charity is one of the amazing things in society and I have always been very supportive of Unicef. You know that the money is going to the right place and is going to make a big difference. Tonight the money is going to help children in Thailand so we know that we are going to contribute to a better future – I think it is difficult to have a better feeling than that.”

United star Daley Blind said, “It’s for a great cause; it’s so important for kids to have an education, so it’s great to be here as a team and raise as much money as we can to help the children in Thailand have a good future. I think everybody enjoys doing charity events like this; making the children happy makes us happy, so it’s a good thing.”

Unicef UK Deputy Executive Director, Catherine Cottrell, said, “Over the last 17 years Manchester United has helped Unicef transform lives and keep children safe across the world. All of the funds raised tonight will help more children in Thailand get an education and the chance of a brighter future. We are very proud of our long standing United for Unicef partnership and want to thank the club for their continued support.”

The United for Unicef partnership is the longest running of its kind between a sport organisation and a global children’s organisation and to date has raised over £4 million, helping to change the lives of millions of children worldwide.

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