IT is supposed to be the cushion and reward for club endeavours, a thank you from the club and fans to their stalwarts.
But no so for Hibs star Lewis Stevenson.
When it was time for his testimonial, he was in no-doubt where the money raised would go, in perhaps one of the most selfless acts the game has seen in a very long time.
He has handed over £40,000 to charity in memory of Easter Road youngster David Paul who fell victim to an undiagnosed heart condition four years ago.
The 18-year-old was found dead in his bed the morning after enjoying a Christmas party with his team-mates.
The tragedy, and unexpected nature of it, has prompted Stevenson to make the massive donation to CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) from the proceeds of his testimonial year.
The Leith club’s longest serving player has also made donations to various other charities in the Edinburgh area while a further sum was given to the Bradley Lowery Foundation set up in memory of the six-year-old Sunderland fan who died from a rare cancer, the English club having provided the opposition for his testimonial match.
Testimonials in top-level football honour a player for service to a club and have increasingly become charitable affairs, where the player gives part or all of the proceeds of the testimonial match to charity.
Today, though, the 30-year-old insisted the donations were not being made by him but by the Hibs fans who had supported both his match against Sunderland and testimonial dinner at the Corn Exchange in Chesser.
He said: “I’d never budgeted for a testimonial year, I had to be talked into it. I didn’t do it for the money.
“But as far as I was concerned, the memories of all the great times I’d had with Hibs were enough for me.
“I never imagined for one minute so much would be raised but I was lucky with the timing, we’d won the Scottish Cup the year before and then won promotion and the supporters gave the events huge backing.
“There are so many amazing charities out there doing great work trying to help as many people so, to my mind, it is the fans’ money, they are the ones who should be getting the pats on the back.”
Revealing he intends to give more to other deserving causes, Stevenson admitted CRY was one which was held close by all at Easter Road.
David’s death has affected them all deeply.
He said: “David’s death hit everyone at the club very hard.
“It was a terrible time and even now, four years on, it’s hard to talk about it. It only seems right to give something back.”
The football starlet David, who was found dead in his bed by his parents, died of ischaemic heart disease – a disease characterised by a reduced blood supply to the heart.
David, who played for Hibs Under-20s side, was found dead in his room just four days before Christmas after he failed to come down for breakfast. He had been at a party with his teammates the night before.
It is the second tragedy to hit the family after his sister, Jennifer, passed away in similar circumstances in 2008 when she was 16.
Jennifer died in her sleep in 2008. The youngster, a fifth year pupil at George Watson’s College, had gone to bed suffering from a sore head and complaining of feeling sick after being at a 16th birthday party in Braid Avenue.
Gordon Paul, father to David and his sister Jenni, said: “We are very grateful to Lewis for the generous contribution – it’s overwhelming and a touching tribute to David and Jenni.
“Our heartfelt thanks go to Lewis for his benevolence, which will ensure the continuation of the great work that CRY do to support families like ours.”
Hibs rallied to honour David’s memory in the wake of his death.
Hibs youth coach James McDonaugh dedicated his young side’s championship win in their debut season in the 2014 East of Scotland league to David, who began the campaign with the club before he passed away.
The club’s teenage stars ensured their team was crowned Central Taxis First Division champions by defeating their long-time title rivals Easthouses Lily 2-0, but McDonaugh insisted that much-loved David still had a part to play on the day. “David was shining down on us,” said McDonaugh after the match. “Having been on the inside and managed a group of players after David’s passing, I feel that it was a fitting tribute to him. He has been a massive loss to us.
“I saw his dad at the game and gave him a special hug at the final whistle.”
And just hours after David died, tragic teenager Jamie Skinner, who was playing for his new team Tynecastle BC U’14s collapsed during a match at the Saughton Astro Pitch.
The 13-year-old lost his life on the field after he collapsed from a cardiac arrest.
Adored by Hibs fans, Lewis Stevenson – the only player to have won the Scottish League Cup in 2007 and Scottish Cup in 2016, made his debut in 2005.
Playing 393 matches, he signed a two-year contract with club in May 2017