The key note that Franny did not only captured and inspired students and staff but really motivated them to engage in change and being part of a better community. Students reflected on sacrifice and effort and have written action plans with this newly found drive and ambition. All delivered in a friendly and calm manner that students really related to. Thank you.
Assistant Head, John Mason School
There are many impassioned speakers, but to genuinely inspire 16 and 17 year olds you need a touch of magic. As soon as he stood in front of 400 former students and their parents, Franny began to weave his spell. Everybody, in a matter of 20 or so minutes, experienced the highs and lows of Franny’s endurance tests, laughing and crying in equal measure. You could have heard a pin drop as images of a near-broken Franny flashed up on the screen, whilst silently and palpably the audience willed him on, eventually sharing in his tears of relief and joy as he’s seen crossing the finish line at the end of his 2 weeks feat of running and cycling 1400 miles.
A great story of the human spirit tested to breaking point. Inspiring, moving, funny – told with humility and impossible modesty.
Executive Headteacher, The Mountbatten School
I have known Franny for 13 years and so I already knew him to be one of the nicest people anyone could hope to meet.
Throughout his playing days he always had time for everyone and there was no such thing as ‘bothering’ him for a photo or an autograph. That is still the case today, more than a decade after he hung up his boots.
But what I wasn’t necessarily quite so prepared for was his ability to captivate a room.
I asked Franny to come and speak to some aspiring Sports Journalism students at Southampton Solent University, as they embarked on a three-year journey in academia. To say it was an inspirational 90 minutes would be an understatement!
Franny held court with tales of his early life in Southampton and how his dedication to his desired profession took him from living in a city centre housing estate to gracing the Premier League with his hometown club.
He also described what drove him to prepare for, and ultimately complete, an epic one-thousand-mile charity endurance challenge in the summer of 2014.
Despite all the stories and memories that were shared during his talk, I think what I will remember the most was the impact that he had on the young people in the room.
It was clear to see that they were incredibly motivated by what they were hearing. They honestly appeared to buy into Franny’s way of thinking, that with the correct levels of hard work, perseverance and application, anything is possible.
I would heartily and enthusiastically recommend that any time spent in Franny’s company - be you a business, athletic club, youth group or educational organisation – is time well spent!
Presenter, Broadcaster, Journalist & Course Leader of ‘Sports Journalism’ at Southampton Solent University
Franny spoke to a team of Operational Supervisor’s in a safety critical role, where he brilliantly drew parallels between professional sports teams and high-performing leadership teams. His speech was thought provoking, inspirational and motivational and the whole team were captivated by it. The very fact that Franny was able to deliver such a speech with passion, humour and humility is testament to his ability to motivate others. I would thoroughly recommend him to anybody looking for a motivational and inspiring presentation.
Deputy General Manager, London Terminal Control, Swanwick Centre
Mr Benali’s journey and challenges are absolutely incredible, and it is really inspiring to see such strong determination. It is indescribably impressive how he made those achievements possible, and trumps all of the excuses we make every day
Upper Sixth pupil, Epsom College
Franny came into Southampton Academy to speak to our U18s about his career path, his commitment and dedication to the sport and also his charity work. The session was thoroughly engaging and the players enjoyed listening to what Franny had to say. Franny spoke to the players in a way that encouraged questions and also opened their minds to a new way of ding things. I wouldn’t hesitate in having Franny back in to speak to the boys again.
Performance Education and Life Care Officer, Southampton FC
Francis Benali gives a lucid and inspiring account of his own experience in the world of professional football, of how he got to and stayed at the top by making the most of his talent through hard work and determination, seeing off challenges from what he himself modestly describes as more naturally gifted players. Not one to rest on his well earned laurels, Fran’s advocacy of hard work and perseverance is given tremendous authority by his own account of the fund-raising challenges he has undertaken since retiring from professional sport. From the selfless desire to use his position for the benefit of others to the gruelling reality of day after day marathon endurance, Fran’s story is one guaranteed to inspire and motivate any audience and to make youngsters believe in themselves and set their ambitions high.
Dr SD Gamblin
Teacher of Chemistry & Assistant Director of Studies (Academic Extension) at King Edwards VI School
For someone with such an accomplished career on the pitch, with a inherent connection to the City of Southampton, it is Francis' extra-curricular work with charities that sets him apart from any of his peers. While his football career presentations are enthralling, his post-football career is inspiring down to the core. The lives he has touched, and helped is unsurmountable, and you can only be inspired to better yourself to benefit others, after hearing his motivating, dynamic talks. So much depth to his character, has led me to write this with hand-on-heart feelings, knowing any audience exposed to Francis will be engaged, energised and immersed, in his well executed, professional, presentation with perfect pitch. Thoroughly recommended, and a great example of a motivational speaker of today, next year, the year after and beyond!
Operations Director Entertainment, P&O Cruises
What can we say, easy; What an honest, inspirational, true gentleman Franny is, and not forgetting his wonderful supporting wife, Karen. Shaftesbury Football Club were lucky to host an evening with Franny after one of our Directors met him on a holiday got talking and invited him to our club. What a success that was! Franny joined us and gave a two part talk, starting with his footballing career and his determination as a youngster to follow a dream, working hard and getting better daily to play for Southampton. And what a fantastic career he had at Southampton, a loyal, true legend. Franny then moved on to his Endurance Charity work, with a video display showing the tough times and hard work which was great to watch. His hours of hard work and support from family & friends to help others is amazing. Franny is an inspiration to others in all that he does and it was an absolute pleasure to have him as our speaker. We would like to thank Franny for coming and supporting a growing football club.
Shaftesbury Football Club
I am very pleased to provide a testimonial for Francis Benali, who was the guest speaker at our staff awards ceremony Hospital Heroes.
Francis spoke about the personal challenge that he had undertaken in terms of running between all of the premier football clubs. His speech was very inspiring, and he made his experience relevant to the hospital staff by talking about the need for determination and personal resilience, and how it was underpinned by teamwork.
He then presented the awards to all of our staff award winners, and had his photo taken with each one. I thought that he handled this process very well and quickly made staff feel at ease in front of a large crowd.
Afterwards he very generously stayed on to talk to all the members of staff who wanted to speak to him. Many of them wanted him to sign autographs which he was also happy to do.
I would certainly recommend Francis for any similar event and I very much hope that he will be available to support the hospital again at events in the future.
Fiona Dalton (Chief Executive)
University Hospital Southampton