Every spare second of Sir Kenny Dalglish’s childhood was spent in a Glasgow street playing sport.

When a big football match was on TV, he would even use half-time as a chance to hone his skills.

And it paid off as he went from Celtic to Liverpool and became one of the greatest Scottish players ever.

But getting out to play didn’t always revolve around the sport he would eventually master.

Athletics, tennis, golf, you name it – Dalglish would have a go. And being so rounded in different sports would have helped Dalglish become King Kenny years later at Anfield or Hampden.

So how would he have felt as a 10-year-old in Milton being told that a global pandemic meant he had to stay indoors?

That’s the nightmare scenario for millions of kids this year due to Covid-19.

Only now is grassroots football restarting and talented youngsters are getting the chance to play again.

No one is more sympathetic to what they’ve been through than Dalglish.

Scotland’s most-capped player hopes a clutch of
youngsters haven’t been lost to football as a result of Covid.

Instead, as a McDonald’s ambassador and supporter of their Grassroots Awards, in conjunction with the SFA and Sunday Mail, he’s keen to praise the volunteers who have gone above and beyond this year to keep kids active.

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Dalglish said: “We were brought up in the Milton in Glasgow – and it was fantastic.

“Our TV was black-and-white but every time there was a sporting event on, it would make us want to recreate it.

“If it was a football match we’d be out in the street at half-time, play for 10 minutes then go back in to watch the second half.

“When the athletics finished, we’d be out racing round the block. If it was tennis we’d go to the park and rent out bats and balls for a game.

“If any of us could find golf balls up in the field we’d be out playing golf. We’d put a Heinz soup can down into the ground as our hole.

“You ended up forgetting where you’d put it – so we’d just hit the ball anywhere.

“We adapted to whatever was on at that time but we were always outdoors.

“To not be allowed out to do what you’re supposed to do growing up – enjoying yourself – must have been difficult.

“It’s more difficult now.

“Parents are maybe not as relaxed now about letting their kids play outdoors. That’s why it’s fantastic the job people have done to keep kids occupied
during the pandemic.

“And now that grassroots football is restarting, I’m sure they’ll be hugely enthusiastic to get back.”

Grassroots volunteers have attempted to put sessions on for kids via Zoom or other means during lockdown.

But it’s their work away from sport that has impressed
Dalglish so much.

It’s why he insists these unsung heroes should be
recognised and appreciated even more than normal.

He said: “Coaches have still managed to give kids some virtual coaching.

“And the Grassroots Awards have taken on a new concept this year because it will include what volunteers did away from football too.

“Football plays its part in the community but there’s a
lifestyle element within a community as well.

“A lot of the clubs have put on breakfasts, lunches and opened up food banks during the pandemic.

“As for the kids, you just have to look at their reaction when they got back to school. It wasn’t because they were getting their education again.

“It was because they were getting to see their mates.

“They need company, they want to play.

“Not everyone has a garden so when they were locked up indoors, it must have been so difficult for a lot of kids.

“The volunteers have actually done a better job this year.

“And it’s been out of their comfort zone because they’d rather be out there coaching kids with a ball.

“They deserve huge credit, they’ve worked wonders. They do a fantastic job just getting kids organised for football.

“To add another burden, to look after people’s health and welfare, it’s a far greater thing than they’ve ever done before.”

With kids set to get back playing again this summer, the Scotland national team’s qualification for the Euro
finals couldn’t have come at a better time.

Dalglish said: “It’s hugely positive for kids to see
Scotland qualify for a major tournament because they’ve now got a story to tell.

“The fact we’re there should override everything.

“There’s a huge desire from everyone to get to the games but we might not be able to.

“So let’s just be proud of what they’ve achieved.”

Sir Kenny Dalglish is launching nominations for the 2021 Scottish FA Grassroots Awards, presented by McDonald's and the Sunday Mail. To nominate your grassroots hero go to mcdonalds.co.uk/awards