Everton midfielder Andre Gomes took part in a live virtual Q&A recently to replace what would have been a second 'hug-a-thon' in aid of Everton in the Community.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, fans were unable to meet and embrace the Portugal international as they had done in January 2019 to raise money for the Club charity's mental health fundraising campaign, The People’s Place.
Instead, Gomes volunteered to meet supporters online and, after an introduction which saw Everton in the Community CEO Richard Kenyon thank fans for their continued support and provide an update on The People's Place campaign, the Portugal international got stuck into answering a mix of pre-submitted and live questions from supporters.
During an enlightening hour-long chat hosted by Everton Fan Zone presenter Giulia Bould, Gomes revealed a range of on and off-the-field facts and stories about himself including how he idolised Ronaldo 'Il Fenomeno' as a child and why Leighton Baines would make his all-time football XI.
The Portugal international also paid tribute to Evertonians, explaining how the deep loyalty of Blues fans and a strong sense of family - underlined by the "overwhelming" reaction he received when he suffered a serious ankle injury in November 2019 - is what sets Everton apart from any other club he has experienced.
Gomes' efforts in supporting Everton in the Community have helped to bring The People’s Place a step closer to reality, with funds from ticket sales for the hug-a-thon being channelled towards a facility that will house EitC's 11 mental health programmes.
“We hope that The People’s Place will be in place and operational within the next 12 months and we will be able to help people in a more enhanced way, which will ultimately see us able to support more people than ever before," Kenyon told fans on the call.
“The need for this facility is now greater than ever before as challenges around mental wellbeing are brought into greater focus through this pandemic and so I thank you all for your continued support.”
Watch some of the best bits from Gomes' Q&A above or by clicking here.
To find out more about The People's Place and how the L4 facility will offer tailored services to promote positive mental health and deliver support relating to suicide awareness and prevention, click here.