HUNDREDS of enthusiastic fans crammed into Southampton Guildhall square to give Saints legend Franny Benali a welcome fit for a hero.

Music pounded and the atmosphere was electric as a huge crowd of the city's residents waited patiently for the former full-back to arrive.

At around 9.30pm last night, Franny and his loyal team cycled past the Civic Centre and onto the square through a funnel of cheering and chanting.

After several short speeches from "Iron Fran" and his daughter Kenzie, fans flocked around him for photos and autographs.

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Franny said: "I feel absolutely delighted to complete my challenge. The reception has been incredible and it has been an incredible journey. The donations have been amazing. I am now looking forward to some downtime and spending some time with my family.

"Without everyone's support, I would not have been able to do this. The team has been surviving on just four hours of sleep a night all this week.

"I hope that I have inspired others to step out of their comfort zones."

Commenting on the support from his Southampton fans and the city, Franny added: "Southampton is my home and I never wanted to leave as a player. It is a unique city with unique people and I am proud to be from here."

His daughter, Kenzie, said: "I feel incredibly proud of my dad. Just the amount of people that have turned up to support him is beyond anything that I imagined. It is the heroes' welcome he deserves. It was an unbelievable feat he set himself and he has the heart of a lion. What a perfect end to the challenge. He is just as loved off the pitch as on."

One fan said: "It's fantastic and unprecedented what he has done and no one else will ever do it. I have total respect for him."

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Throughout the series of triathlons, the retired footballer let nothing stop him, defying all odds and medical advice to complete the last leg of seven triathlons.

He ran the Southampton Marathon on Sunday morning and was joined by a team of cyclists at the Cenotaph for the final 112-miles of his "epic" journey.

With legs pumping, the route took him through the heart of the New Forest with stops at Boldre, Beaulieu and Lyndhurst and back to Southampton Guildhall.

A rollercoaster of ups and downs, Franny was left “devastated” after having to drop out of the fifth day and sixth days of his challenge.

It was instead completed by his support team, family and friends while he travelled alongside them in a vehicle to cheer them on.

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All for a good cause, Franny has raised just shy of £1m for the charity Cancer Research UK, and in one day alone he managed to raise £72,000.

The challenge entailed seven triathlons in seven consecutive days, with each day being made up of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile cycle and a 26.2-mile run.

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