A former Southampton FC player has described the “incredible experience” of fostering more than 70 children.

Ex-Saints player, Pedro "Pelé" Monteiro and his wife Jo have partnered with Southampton City Council, on a campaign to find more foster carers.

The couple have been fostering children for all most 10 years, after Pelé retired from his 24 year-long-career in professional football.

Daily Echo: Adam WildeThe ex-Saints professional, who also placed for West Bromwich Albion, AFC Totton and Havant and Waterlooville FC, said: “We've cared for over 70 foster children over the years and feel incredibly lucky to have done so.

“Fostering can be challenging, but the rewards are immeasurable.”

The couple have two biological children, Rhaianna, 15, and Taelan, 12, and have recently welcomed, Theo, 15, into their family - having fostered him for the past year and a half.

Currently, there are 510 children in care, with just over half having to be placed outside of Southampton, due to a lack of fostering placements within the city.

The council said that applicants must be aged 21 and over and have a spare bedroom - and the dedication to creating a safe and supportive environment for these deserving children.

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The ex-Saints player continued: “Our two biological children have formed close bonds with many of our foster children, and fostering has taught them valuable life skills and empathy.

“We highly recommend fostering to anyone who has extra love to give and space in their heart and home.

“The training and support provided by the Southampton foster care network is exceptional, and being part of this community of foster carers has been an incredible experience.”

The council have also partnered with Southampton FC to help recruit foster carers from diverse backgrounds and cultures who will receive comprehensive training.

Greg Baker, Director of Community for Southampton Football Club, said: “Our club believes in the power of community and supporting those most in need in our city, and this initiative aligns perfectly with our values.

“By encouraging our fans to consider becoming foster carers, we hope to offer stability to these children and reinforce the bonds that keep them connected to their roots.”