THERE are plenty of examples of footballers existing in their own self-contained bubble. Overpaid and inconsiderate, the stereotype of a Premier League footballer is that of a multi-millionaire, closeted away from the world going on around them.

As with any stereotype, there is a degree of truth to the image. But only a degree. Up and down the country, there are plenty of examples of footballers and football clubs acting altruistically for the benefit of others. At Newcastle United, one such example involves the club’s elderly assistant kit manager, George Ramshaw.

George doesn’t like to discuss his age, but the fact he describes himself as “a pensioner” tells you everything you need to know.

His footballing days are behind him, but he was a decent enough player once, turning out for the hugely-successful amateur Whitley Bay side of the 1950s and 60s and twice being picked for a Great Britain representative team.

He toured Rhodesia, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda with the Great Britain amateur team in the early 1960s before also representing his country on a tour of Iceland later in the decade.

He then went into coaching and was assistant to Ray Wilkie at non-league side Gateshead at a time when Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle team used to play their reserve matches at Gateshead International Stadium.

George was the go-between between the two clubs, and asked Jeff Clarke, Newcastle’s reserves manager at the time, why the second-string line-up didn’t have its own kitman. He took on the role initially on a part-time basis, working under current kit manager Ray Thompson, and the pair have worked alongside each other as part of Newcastle’s backroom set-up ever since.

Last year, however, George started suffering chronic pain in his hip. It was hampering his movement and his ability to carry out his duties with the Magpies, but with the winter pressures on the NHS building up, it was going to take months for him to be able to get a replacement.

Newcastle’s players would see George hobbling around at work, and asked the club’s manager, Steve Bruce, what the problem was. He explained, and without being prompted, the first-team squad decided to see what they could do to help.

“I’m eternally grateful to the players,” said George, who lives close to Newcastle’s training ground in Hebburn. “I was in a lot of pain with my hip, and it would have been months before I could get an operation through the NHS given how busy they are.

“The players said to the doctor, Paul Catterson, ‘Can we do something’ – and the doctor put it in motion with the Nuffield (a private hospital).

“Within a fortnight, I was in and had it done. All the lads came together and put in to pay for it – me and my wife are both very grateful. I’m feeling great now. I was off for about four months, but I’m back full-time now. It’s champion.”

Newcastle’s training ground is currently in effective lockdown, with the players working with individual training programmes at their own homes. If that changes, George’s age means he might well have to stay away and self-isolate.

However, once normality resumes, he will be there, carrying out his duties, complete with his new hip.

“It was good of the lads to do it,” said Bruce. “George needed something doing, and the lads came together to help out. I think that says a lot about them.”