FORMER Southend United star Anton Ferdinand has called for people to “be a hero” after the death of his son’s friend.

Ex West Ham and Southend footballer Anton Ferdinand is working with blood cancer charity DKMS, to urge people to join the the blood stem cell register and be on standby to help save a life.

Ferdinand, 34, is working with the charity after his six-year-old son lost a close friend to blood cancer in June.

Henry Walker, five, from Billericay, was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia in 2018, a rare condition where bone marrow does not produce enough blood stem cells.

Henry needed an urgent a urgent bone marrow transplant, but after international effort to find a suitable match, the search was unsuccessful.

In Henry’s honour, Anton decided to raise awareness.

He said: “There is a real need for more people to join the register with DKMS.

“By donating your blood stem cells, you can potentially save someone’s life.

“That’s what you want to be – a hero.

“Some people think I’m a hero because I’ve played football, but the real heroes are the people who save lives.”

Anton, who has joined the blood donor register himself, explained the impact of Henry’s death on his son.

He added: “There were questions like ‘where has Henry gone?’ ‘Where has he gone now he’s not here, Dad?’

“He’d only faced these questions a year before when my mum passed away.

“But somehow these questions seemed different, because it was a young boy of his own age”.

“He couldn’t understand why someone so young would not be here any more.

“Henry’s death had a huge impact on him.

“This is why everyone needs to join the register with DKMS – every person who signs up is a potential lifesaver for someone like Henry, or one of the many other people searching for their match.”

If you are aged between 17 – 55 and in general good health, you can request your home swab kit at to become a potential lifesaver.