Old friends kick-start Johnny's fund
FRIENDS of a young father who died in an alleged street attack are planning a football match to raise money for his family.
Johnny Assani died after collapsing outside his home in Walbrook Street, Pear Tree, last August.
Since his death, the Johnny Assani Charity Fund has been set up to provide for his three young children.
Childhood friend Darren Caine, 42, is hoping to raise £10,000 for the fund.
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Darren said: "I knew Johnny's family when I was younger and we were in St James's Juniors together. Johnny's brother Anthony was one of my best friends.
"I'd like to raise a million for the kids if we could. But realistically, £10,000 would be a great start."
Anthony Assani, Johnny's younger brother, praised Darren for his hard work in organising the match at Pride Park.
Anthony said: "What Darren endeavours to do is really great. He's done a lot of fund-raising for other people."
Darren and Anthony were reunited last year after losing touch when they went to different secondary schools.
Anthony explained: "Our families grew up together. Me and Darren went to primary school together and so did Johnny and Darren's older brother Mark.
"After that we went to separate secondary schools. When I finished, I began teaching in Wakefield for a few years and we lost touch. It's sad when you meet old friends again in tragic circumstances."
Derby-born Darren, who used to be a firefighter for the Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, has returned to live in the city and works as a security guard.
He has organised the match with people from Derby and Staffordshire.
Johnny's friends and family will be playing for Derby and firefighters from Staffordshire will be wearing the Stoke City strip.
Members of the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service are also expected to join in.
Darren said: "Stoke City actually played against Derby County in a match on Saturday, so we're seeing it as a charity rematch."
"I don't like to lose so we had better win!"
Perry Mighty, father of Lewis Mighty, a young Derby boy fighting cancer, will also be helping out by playing for Derby.
A raffle will go on throughout the match.
Derby County and Stoke City will both be donating goods, alongside other businesses from both cities.
Darren said: "It's going to be like a big football reunion. There are a lot of us that haven't seen each other for a while."
Both Darren and Anthony are looking forward to future events.
Anthony said: "In the future, I'd like to meet up with Darren and discuss helping him with other fund-raisers.
"I'd like to give him some input on other projects."
The first fund-raiser for the Johnny Assani charity was held at Derby restaurant Mango Tang three months ago, shortly after the fund was set up.
The charity match kicks off at 7pm on Friday, May 18.
Tickets cost £5 and accompanied children under the age of 16 can attend for free.
Players will donate money towards the fund and anyone else who wishes to do so is welcome to contribute.
To donate or to buy tickets, call Darren on 07928 532 126.
Three men have been charged with Mr Assani's murder and are due to appear in court later this year