Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards is in the goalscoring form of his life but it's his work off the field that’s attracted attention lately. Adam Bate caught up with him to discuss his support for the Offside Trust as well as the latest goings on at Molineux…
The revelations about the abuse of young boys under the care football coaches shocked football. But while the appalling stories have made headlines since November when men such as Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Chris Unsworth spoke out, support from within the game has not been as forthcoming as might have been expected.
The trio have set up the Offside Trust, an independent organisation designed to support players and families who have suffered from abuse. It's an attempt to ensure others get the help they did not. And yet, when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, not one current player, club or major professional body had come out in support of their efforts.
Dave Edwards changed that with one tweet. "Please follow the Offside Trust to show your support for the bravery of the abused and to make sure our children will be safe in the future," wrote the Wolves and Wales midfielder. A simple message, but for Walters it was a symbolic moment. Edwards makes it sound an easy decision.
"I wasn't aware of the Offside Trust until (broadcaster and Wolves supporter) Jacqui Oatley got in touch with me about it," he tells Sky Sports. "She showed me the information, I looked at it and it seemed silly not to get behind it. From there, I got in touch with Steve firstly and asked if there was anything I could do. I genuinely thought I would share it and talk about it a bit but I didn't appreciate that what I could do would make a big impact.
"And yet, Steve has messaged me since about the coverage they have got on the back of it. So any small part I can play in getting this to the attention of someone with a bigger social media presence is worth it because I do think it can have a snowball effect and gain more traction. It just needs a few more people. Hopefully the little bit I can do will help that."
Edwards has since taken part in a moving radio interview alongside Walters. "I had a good chat with him before the interview," he adds. "The experiences these guys have been through are absolutely horrific. It is quite shocking when you hear it first-hand. To have the courage to come through that and start this trust is a pretty remarkable thing.
"We do not want this to continue happening. It's scary. This is the sort of thing that gets suppressed and it can affect your whole life. It can end lives too and that's the last thing you want happening. What these guys are doing is amazing and there is no reason why everyone shouldn't back it."
Perhaps it takes a character like Edwards, someone determinedly living outside of football's bubble, to make the difference. The 30-year-old officially launches the Little Rascals Foundation in April, a charity affiliated to the play centre he already runs in Shropshire, that will provide facilities for children with physical and learning difficulties.
"Right from the start we wanted a charity alongside it to give back to the community," he explains. "It seems only natural with the facility we have got - we have a sensory room - because there isn't enough for children with disabilities to do in this area. Hopefully it will be the first step to raising some money and changing some children's lives."
Clearly, Edwards appreciates that there is more to life than football. Which makes it all the more impressive that he still plays like it means everything. "I always give my absolute maximum on the training pitch and in games," he says, and there isn't a coach, colleague or supporter who would disagree. Right now, he also happens to be in the form of his career.
With six goals in his last 10 starts, he was nominated for December's Championship player of the month award and credits new boss Paul Lambert's role in that. "He has come in and given me a bit more freedom, which obviously I enjoy," says Edwards. "It allows me to arrive a little bit later into the box, which makes me harder to pick up and that suits my game."
By his own admission, there have been ups and downs during his nine years at Molineux. "I would be interested to find out how many players I have played with at Wolves," he says. "It's a bit of a quiz question." But he's the first player since Steve Bull to score for the club in 10 consecutive seasons and the fans are chanting his name more than ever.
"Early in my career we had a lot of big names and I went through a tough time in my mid-twenties when I was wasn't playing and I was picking up injuries," he admits. "Obviously, there was the double relegation. At the start of the League One season, I was one of the players who had been through that and you do take a lot of stick for it.
"But I have tried to rebuild my reputation a little bit. I think I still do split opinions a bit but there are definitely more fans on my side now than there were a few years ago. I am glad it seems to be on an upward curve from a personal point of view. I'm playing some of the better football of my career."
The man known to supporters as 'Dangerous' Dave is in danger of becoming a Wolves treasure, loved and respected for his personality as well as his performances. Wolves need more players like him. But what his support of the Offside Trust shows is that perhaps football itself needs more players like Dave Edwards too.