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Solskjaer leads his team at the United for Unicef Gala Dinner

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led the Manchester United first team as he attended his first United for Unicef Gala Dinner since returning to the club as caretaker manager.

| by Rebecca Mee
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led the Manchester United first-team squad at Old Trafford this evening as he attended his first United for Unicef Gala Dinner since returning to the club as caretaker manager.

The annual event celebrated the 20-year partnership between Manchester United and Unicef and raised a fantastic £225,000 for the world’s leading children’s organisation. These funds will go towards helping some of the world’s most vulnerable children affected by disasters and those living through conflict. 

Offering fans the chance to rub shoulders with their footballing heroes, the black-tie event is a highlight of the club’s social calendar and was this year hosted by television presenter and lifelong Manchester United supporter, Angus Deayton. 

Also in attendance was the Brits’ Critics Choice Award nominee Lewis Capaldi, who performed his hit track ‘Grace’ during dinner. 

Fundraising games and a live auction offered guests the chance to win a number of once-in-a-lifetime prizes. The star lot was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s custom-made, co-branded squad watch, which contributed an incredible £35,000 to the fundraising total. This limited-edition piece, presented by Ole himself, symbolises his return to Manchester United as the caretaker manager. 

Speaking on stage at the event, Ole said, “It’s absolutely fantastic to be back home and to be a part of this club again.  I remember the first association I had with Unicef as a player in Beijing in 1999 and I’m honoured to now be the goodwill ambassador for Unicef back home in Norway.  For me, it’s the closest charity to my heart and it’s fantastic to see so many people here and hopefully we can raise a lot of money tonight.” 

All funds raised from this year’s dinner will go towards Unicef’s Children’s Emergency Fund, allowing Unicef to act wherever the needs of children are the greatest. Unicef responds to around 300 humanitarian emergencies each year in some of the most dangerous places in the world. 

Mike Penrose, Executive Director, Unicef UK said, “Thanks to the club, the players and fans, over the last 20 years United for Unicef has changed the lives of millions of children around the world. It is our aim to ensure that children caught up in emergencies have the chance to rebuild their lives – through access to quick and sustainable support. Children are in desperate need of life-saving food, water and medicine as well as a safe space to learn and be protected. Funds raised from tonight's Gala Dinner will enable Unicef to reach even more of the world's most vulnerable children."

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