FORMER Saints great Franny Benali raised more than £13,000 for Saints Foundation and NHS Charities Together after completing a marathon on a treadmill in the garden of his Southampton home yesterday.

In sweltering conditions, the legendary former Southampton FC defender finished the 26.2 miles in just under five hours on what would have been the date of the ABP Southampton Marathon and London Marathon.

The nationwide 2.6 challenge charity campaign aimed to raise funds for good causes locally and nationally, and Benali smashed his original target of £2,600 by more than £11,000 so far.

His achievement was made even more remarkable by his lack of training having decided to run the marathon just 10 days prior to Sunday’s event.

During the marathon, he was joined by his former teammate and close friend, Saints legend Matt Le Tissier, via video call, who ran ‘alongside him’ for eight kilometres.

Benali also wore a selection of different Saints shirts from across his playing career, including the shirt worn during the 2003 FA Cup final against Arsenal.

He told the Daily Echo: “In a strange way I really enjoyed it. It was amazing to see all of the comments and well wishes coming in and that drove me on.

“I was going a little bit into the unknown given the lack of training, but the legs feel ok. Running on the treadmill was different. At one point I had some discomfort in my knees and I had a couple of near misses, when I nearly fell off the back of the treadmill, but thankfully, managed to stay on.

“It was incredible and so humbling to see all of the donations coming in. It always makes challenges like this worthwhile.”

Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation, added: “We are so proud of Franny’s efforts. He came to us with a crazy idea and we were more than willing to help in any way we could.

“His support for Saints Foundation has always been incredible and he has once again captured the public’s imagination and raised an incredible amount not just for us, but for NHS Charities Together, who are supporting those that are working so hard to keep us all safe during this difficult time. We can’t thank Franny enough for what he has achieved.”

But it wasn’t just Benali who was out raising money for Saints Foundation on Sunday.

Joining in were staff members from the Foundation alongside the Southampton FC Women’s team, who collectively walked, rowed, rode and ran 26.2 miles for the community cause. One member of staff, Gareth Byres ran a marathon around his local roads.

Donate to Benali's Garden Marathon at