We are very proud of the unwavering support we receive from our DT38 Ambassadors, many of who are past and current footballers plying their trade in the upper echelons of The Beautiful Game.
The very latest to sign for us was Freddie Sears, currently of Ipswich Town FC, who knew Dylan from their time together at the Hammers.
We caught up with “Searsey” recently – who has made 30 appearances for the Tractor Boys in the 2017-18 season so far – to talk about life in football and his memories of spending time with Dylan at Upton Park in the early days of his career.
“I first met Dylan at West Ham,” he recalled.
“I remember first meeting this blonde long-haired Australian teenager and once we started training together we become good friends and had a good relationship on and off the pitch.”
Freddie reminisced about time spent on the golf course with Dylan and their team-mate George Moncur, now at Championship outfit Barnsley FC.
“It was even better seeing their faces after I beat them,” he quipped.
“Dylan started training with the first team and you could see the ability he had and he always had a smile on his face.
“Even after all the stuff he went through, he still had a smile on his face and made people laugh and I’ll never forgot Dylan for that, he was a real inspiration.”
After clocking up more 50 appearances for West Ham United and spending time at other clubs, Freddie is now playing “up top” or “out wide” for The Blues, a club with a 140-year history and an army of tremendously loyal and passionate fans.
“It is great to play for teams with great history,” he explained.
“West Ham is my team and to go all the way through the system and play in the first team was a dream come true.
“I’m really enjoying my time at Ipswich Town and it’s great to represent a well supported team in the Championship with great fans.”
At the age of 28 many experts in the sport would insist that Freddie is reaching the peak of his powers.
Having made more than 200 first team appearances in his career after spells at West Ham, Crystal Palace, Coventry and Colchester before crossing the border to Suffolk, we asked the Hornchurch-born striker what ambitions he still has within the game.
“I’m 28 now so should be coming into my peak and my ambitions are always the same, to play at the highest level possible and for as long as possible.
“Sometimes in football you have bad days but at the end of the day I’m playing football for a living which is great and is every boy’s dream.”
Having moved from the Premier League to the Championship during his career, Freddie has first-hand experience of the difference on the pitch between the first and second tiers.
“The Championship is such a tough league because it is relentless.
“You play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday and the games are always 100 per cent.
“The Premier League, of course, is great.
“I think you get more time in games but you also get punished a lot more as there so many quality players.”
During time together at the West Ham Academy both Freddie and Dylan worked under the guidance of legendary coach Tony Carr MBE.
Freddie sited Carr as his biggest inspiration inside the game.
“I loved working with Tony and he really did get the best out of me.
“I had two great years with him and at the end of the second season I was playing in the first team.
“He always used to tell us about the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Jermaine Defoe who he had also worked with.”
Since Freddie graduated from Academy football into the first team almost ten years ago, the English game has continued to develop and grow across the world.
One of the latest innovations has been the trial of Video Assisted Referee (VAR), during selected FA Cup matches in the 2017-18 season.
The experiment has attracted mixed reviews, so far.
“The idea of VAR is good but I’m not sure it’s great for the game,” Freddie explained.
“Everyone wants correct decisions but we don’t want the game to be slowed down too much.
“I think goal-line technology is great but still think VAR needs more work and testing to get the best results.”
Millions of young boys and girls dream of becoming a professional footballer but only a very small percentage make it to the top.
With more than 20 years experience on the pitch, Freddie is ideally placed to offer advice to young people hoping to make their in world’s most popular sport.
“The best bit of advice I’d give is to work hard and give it your all,” he said.
He added: “Enjoyment is key so always try to train and play with a smile on your face.”
Next month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of Dylan, who lost his battle with testicular cancer on April 18, 2014, aged 20.
A year later saw the launch of DT38 Foundation, a charity to raise awareness of the risks of the disease and the importance of self-checking, early detection and insisting on an ultrasound – something that was Dylan was denied.
In the UK alone around 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year and if caught early enough the survival rate is around 98 per cent.
As a DT38 Ambassador, Freddie offered an important message to fans of Ipswich Town, West Ham United and men everywhere.
‘Testicular cancer can be fatal if you don’t catch the symptoms early, seek medical advice and get treated,’ he said.
‘Please guys, check yourselves on a regular basis, it’s not difficult and it really could save your life.
“Check out DT38’s website for advice on how to check yourselves.”