FORMER Wales goalkeeper Neville Southall has in recenty years become a phenomenon for his use of social media to promote left wing causes and activism.

The man who played between the sticks for Wales from the 1980s through to the late 1990s - and who for a while was regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world - has become a favourite on Twitter for his support for left wing politics but also crucially the role he plays in highlighting social causes.

His Twitter Takeover events sees the man affectionately known as 'Big Nev' hand control of his account to organisers or activists to highlight a particular cause for an evening.

That has included LGBTQ rights and Trans issues and in 2019 he allowed Labour supporters for an independent Wales to use his account to push the case for independence.

Now a mental health consultant has revealed how one of the former Everton player's 'Takeover' events led to him becoming an organ donor.

Azeem Ahmad became a living kidney donor for someone he didn’t know in 2019.

The 35-year-old, from Newcastle, said: “I first really became aware of organ donation in 2017 when Andy Cole, the former footballer, needed a kidney. I think I had that in the back of my mind for some time.

“When Neville Southall did a ‘Twitter takeover’ for the family of a young girl who needed a kidney, I thought that I should see if I could be a match and so I got in touch.

“The specialists really helped me understand about all the different options available to me and the more I knew, the more I decided it was the right thing for me to do.

“I was eventually matched with a number of potential people needing a kidney and in 2019 I was asked if I would donate to a person who was the best match for me.

“I don’t think it is for everyone, but for me it was definitely the right thing to do.

“I had to take things slowly. Initially I did get fatigued from time to time, but I’m back to health and running again. I’ve called my remaining kidney ‘Kevin’ because he is Home Alone.

“Getting a card from the person who received my kidney was an amazing moment. I didn’t know myself, I didn’t realise how much it would affect me. It meant so much to me. It hit me really hard.

“I hope that my story will inspire others. I hope that by sharing my story that someone might read it and think ‘Maybe I can do that’.”

NHS Blood and Transplant is running a campaign urging people to share and register their decision about organ donation on World Kidney Day.

Even though the law around organ donation for the deceased has now changed to an opt-out system, bringing England and Scotland into line with Wales, many people remain unaware that families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.

The campaign comes as a separate campaign, the ORGANise initiative, was launched to boost the number of organ donors from black, Asian, mixed heritage and minority ethnic communities.

More information on donation is available at or from  0300 123 23 23.

  • This article originally appeared on our sister site The National. Additional reporting: Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent