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Grenfell Tower fire: England player hoping to use star profile to help victims

The Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand told a press conference ahead of a World Cup qualifier that he watched the building burn on June 14

England defender Ryan Bertrand has spoken about the particular resonance the Grenfell Tower fire had for him and his desire to help those affected by the tragedy.

Shortly after the June 14 blaze at the west London apartment block, which claimed the lives of up to 80 people, Southwark-born Bertrand went to visit the site.

He posted a series of tweets around the time in which he said: “I want to help, not just donate. I can’t think of all the answers but I can do what I feel is needed.

“Starting with rehousing the victims, and making sure they don’t leave the W11 post code. And remain on the emergency housing list.”

The 28-year-old Southampton and former Chelsea player was asked about his response on Monday (October 2) at a press conference at England’s St George’s Park base .

Bertrand said: “The world’s a bit crazy at the moment, right? Over the last few years, there have been catastrophes everywhere.

“But this was kind of on my doorstep, or nearby, and I just wanted to do something more (than donate).

The former Chelsea star paid his visit to Grenfell while the community mobilised to help those affected(Image: Jack Taylor / Getty Images)

“It kind of struck a nerve to see that, growing up in similar tower blocks when I was a kid. I still have family in places, albeit in a different area of London.

“It just really hit me, this one. I had a few friends actually from the estate, and I just wanted to see what else we could do.

“I went down to the estate just to ask questions, and see how it was going, just to get a real feel for it and see what I could do to make a difference.

“If I can provide support for the immediate future for even just one family from the whole disaster, then great.

“We’re in the process of doing a few things, but I don’t really want to say too much until it is done. Things are ongoing.”

Asked if the people he knows who lived there were okay, Bertrand said: “Yeah, they’re fine, but you just hear some of the stories. It was mad.”

Ryan Bertrand during an England press conference in 2016(Image: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

He added: “I’m not saying ‘listen, I’m Ryan Bertrand, let me fly in to see what I can do’, because I’m not the biggest footballer in the world.

“But I thought I have some sort of status at the moment, and I wanted to see what I could do to help.

“I grew up in south-east London - I was born in Southwark. And I spent a good number of years in south-west, west London, so I’m familiar with the territory.

“And my nan, my aunties and that, they all still do (live in tower blocks). This one resonated with me quite a lot.”

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