Renowned Huddersfield artist Darren Baker hopes his stunning image of two soccer stars will help raise cash to combat depression and mental health problems.

Meltham-born Darren, 38, lost his 35-year-old sister Leanne in June last year and the family has set up a trust in her memory.

Relatives have launched a big fundraising drive for the Leanne Baker Trust and now a superb piece of football art is being auctioned online.

The charcoal and pencil drawing, entitled Respect, depicts the moment top football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale became teammates at Spanish giants Real Madrid. The breathtaking Bernabau Stadium is in the background.

The auction, on Darren’s own website, ends next weekend and bids have so far topped £500.

Darren teamed up with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) after a meeting with chief executive Gordon Taylor.

Mr Taylor agreed to send the artwork to Madrid via the Spanish players’ union and get both players to autograph it.

 

The artwork was returned weeks later and now comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

The proceeds will be split between the trust and the PFA’s education department which works to tackle mental health issues among footballers.

Darren said: “The work took more than 80 hours to complete and is a fabulous piece of memorabilia for someone, maybe even Ronaldo or Bale themselves.”

The auction was promoted at the PFA Awards dinner on Sunday April 27 – both Ronaldo and Bale are previous PFA players of the year – and Darren hopes some wealthy footballers may weigh in with bids.

“You never know how much will be raised online,” he said. “I have had pieces raise from £5,000 up to £20,000.”

Leanne, of Almondbury, had suffered from depression for years but had recovered only to become ill again as she planned her wedding. Tragically she was found hanged.

Top football stars Gary Speed and Stan Collymore are the highest profile players to suffer depression but Darren said: “I am sure it affects many more than that, particularly those in the lower divisions.

“It is one of those industries where you are in the limelight for a few years and then thrown back. Everything can seem fine on the surface but underneath there is turmoil.”

To bid on the artwork go to www.darrenbakerfineart.co.uk/limited-edition-fine-art-prints/respect/