Liverpool Football Club welcomed 22 community heroes to Anfield on Sunday to enjoy the Reds' friendly fixture against Athletic Club.

The 22 heroes, who ranged from NHS staff to scientists, supermarket workers and community volunteers, enjoyed hospitality in the club’s Carlsberg Lounge as a heartfelt thank-you for the incredible work that they have done to support the city during such difficult and unprecedented times.

Prior to kick-off, an announcement was made by Reds legend Alan Kennedy, welcoming and thanking the community heroes for their outstanding contributions and continuing commitment to the community.

Liz Owens, ward manager at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, said: “My ward is a COVID ward and the past 18 months have been very tough and at times exhausting. I was overwhelmed to be invited to Anfield with my family and we really enjoyed the experience together.”

Dr Helen Hill from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who is currently running the AstraZeneca Oxford trial for Liverpool, added: “Myself and the team have been working 12-hour days, seven days a week, to support the trial of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine. Whilst our work is so important and rewarding, it has also been very challenging.

“This was actually my first time attending a football match and I really enjoyed the experience and atmosphere. It was very emotional to see people together and having fun.”

Former LFC star Jason McAteer also stopped by to meet and greet the community heroes, take photographs and share his thoughts on the game before kick-off.

Danielle Forshaw, personnel clerk at ASDA Breck Road, said: “Working through the pandemic has definitely been a challenge. Recruitment has been very important for our store as staff have needed to isolate for many reasons. To ensure this, I was often working 11-hour days, six days a week. It has been tough for everyone at the store as we really are a close-knit community.

“I would like to thank the club for inviting me along to experience the game in style. I really enjoyed it and meeting Jason McAteer was a highlight too.”

Matt Parish, chief executive of LFC Foundation, added: “During the height of the pandemic, local communities relied upon the kindness and bravery of so many people in different key roles across the city and as a club we wanted to thank them wholeheartedly.

“It was such a pleasure to welcome some of our community heroes to our first game back at Anfield. We are truly grateful for their outstanding contributions to our great city, and we hope they enjoyed the day and realise how grateful and proud we are of them for everything they do.”