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'Courageous' soldier Mark Ward to present FA Cup

Cpl Mark Ward
Image caption Cpl Mark Ward said football was a massive part of Army life

A soldier praised for his courage in Afghanistan, which saw him awarded the Military Cross for bravery, is to present the FA Cup to the winning side.

Cpl Mark Ward was chosen to present Saturday's prize to the winning captain because of his "inspirational leadership" as a section commander.

A member of the Mercian Regiment, based in Catterick, North Yorks, he will be guest of honour at the Wembley final between Manchester City and Stoke City.

He said he was "extremely proud".

Among those who have previously presented the trophy are Prince William, the Queen, Winston Churchill and Sir Bobby Robson.

'True fan'

FA chairman David Bernstein said: "We should never forget the bravery and sacrifice our forces make and I hope this gesture by the FA will give the 90,000 crowd at Wembley on Saturday the chance to show their respect and appreciation.

"Reading Cpl Ward's citation for the Military Cross is truly humbling.

"His bravery and commitment to his platoon whilst in Afghanistan was outstanding and I am delighted he is able to join us on Saturday representing all of our troops around the world."

A life-long Manchester City fan, Cpl Ward said: "Getting awarded the Military Cross was an extremely proud moment in my life but I have to say this is up there.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Beyond any club allegiance I am a true fan of football and to be at Wembley for such a prestigious event as the FA Cup Final, let alone handing over the trophy, is a real privilege."

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