Sheffield United legend rushed to hospital after awards ceremony collapse

Former Sheffield United star Alan Birchenall.
Former Sheffield United star Alan Birchenall.
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Former Sheffield United star Alan Birchenall is in hospital today after collapsing at an awards ceremony.

The 71-year-old sports star is in a stable condition in hospital in Leicester after falling ill at a ceremony in the city on Thursday night.

Birchenall during his days at Bramall Lane.

Birchenall during his days at Bramall Lane.

Birchenall was representing another of his clubs, Leicester City, at the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards at Leicester Tigers' Welford Road stadium.

He was about to present the 'club of the year' honour but complained of feeling ill backstage and was taken to Glenfield Hospital in the city.

Birchenall works as an ambassador at Leicester City's King Power Stadium but began his career at Sheffield United, scoring 31 goals in 107 games between 1963 and 1967.

Leicester City released the following statement: 'Alan was transferred to Glenfield Hospital after falling ill while representing the club at the Leicester Mercury Sports Awards in Leicester.

'The Club will provide an update on Alan’s condition on Friday once the results of overnight tests have provided an accurate diagnosis.

'Everyone at Leicester City sends 'Birch' their love and best wishes for a speedy recovery.'

The highly-regarded Birchenall works for the club in an ambassadorial role and received an MBE for his extensive charitable work back in 2003.

He played 183 times for the Foxes between 1971 and 1977.

Birchenall's parents moved from East Ham in London to Nottinghamshire when he was four and he played in the local junior leagues for Thorneywood Boys where he was spotted by Sheffield United.

Signed by then manager John Harris, Birchenall was a skilful attacking midfielder who initially played in the Blades youth and reserve team where he became a prolific goal scorer. He made his league debut a year after he was signed playing against Stoke City in September 1964.

Nicknamed The Birch, Birchenall soon cemented himself in the Blades first team, endearing himself to the fans by scoring both goals against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday in a 2–0 victory at Hillsborough in only his second game.

Netting nine goals in his first twelve First Division games he soon formed a formidable partnership with fellow striker Mick Jones who he had played with as a Nottinghamshire schoolboy.

In 1967 however, with United seeking to raise funds both Birchenall and Jones were sold in quick succession with Birchenall being transferred to Chelsea.

Birchenall was among the first players to command a £100,000 price tag when he made the move in November 1967.

In a 20-year career,he also played for Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Notts County, Blackburn Rovers and Luton Town.