Manchester United Foundation CEO recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

John Shiels coaching with Bryan Robson

Manchester United Foundation is delighted to announce that its CEO, John Shiels, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

In a career spanning over forty years, John has dedicated himself to the education and empowerment of children and young people. After starting his professional life as a teacher and part-time football coach, he took over the management of Sir Bobby Charlton Soccer schools in the 1980s. During this period, he not only developed his philosophy of football as a tool to engage with and help young people develop life skills, but he also forged a close personal friendship with Sir Bobby and Lady Norma Charlton that remains strong to this day.

After a tenure as Head of Manchester United Soccer Schools, John took on the role as CEO of Manchester United Foundation in 2008. During this time John has implemented a strategy of using football and the Manchester United brand to educate and inspire young people across Greater Manchester.

Although his MBE recognises decades of service to young people; those across the Manchester United and Greater Manchester community will be aware of John’s unrelenting efforts to support and feed children and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Richard Arnold, Manchester United Managing Director and MU Foundation Chair, said: “John’s leadership of Manchester United Foundation has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the region. I’m incredibly proud of his achievements – none more so than in the last 18 months, navigating the charity through the coronavirus pandemic, and ensuring the Foundation stays ever-present during a time when children and their families need our help most.

“True to his footballing roots, I know John is a team player and he will play down personal recognition for this award, but speaking on behalf of the Club and Manchester United Foundation we are incredibly proud and offer John our warmest congratulations.”

After sharing the news of the MBE with family and friends, John Shiels said: “It was a complete surprise. It makes me feel very proud, very humble, and really grateful to have had the life I have enjoyed and then to be recognised in this way.

“I fully understand and appreciate that this is not a sole award for one person; I have a network of hundreds of people who have nurtured, supported, and developed me. I am just doing the same now, as they all did, and continue to do for me. This award will drive me more; there is so much that needs to be done.”

Long-term supporter of the Foundation and Manchester United ambassador Bryan Robson OBE was also quick to respond: “I was delighted when I heard the news; I’ve enjoyed working with John on a number of community activities and fundraising events over the years and he’s the most personable man you could ever meet.”

Bryan continued: “All he ever wants to do is put a smile on children’s faces; he’ll do all the formal elements of his role, the public speaking, the black-tie events etc, but he’s never happier than when he’s taking a football session or visiting children in a local school.”

For more information about Manchester United Foundation and its work in the Greater Manchester community and beyond visit mufoundation.org