ENGLAND coach Gareth Southgate has called up two Sussex footballers... to thank them for their charity fundraising.

Former Crawley schoolboy Southgate, 49, surprised Kevin Keehan and Scott Kirkwood with a video call to thank them for their efforts just before they smashed through the £50,000 mark.

Kevin, player-manager of Southern Combination League AFC Varndeanians, and Scott, who plays for Isthmian League side Burgess Hill Town, set up the Run5k4NHS campaign to raise money for the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust during the coronavirus crisis.

And it took off with the football family in Sussex getting right behind the cause with people running 5k and then making donations to their JustGiving page.

Three Lions chief Gareth dialled in to thank them for their “amazing” fundraising.

Kevin gave Gareth the rundown on why they decided to start the venture.

He explained: “We knew we could call on a lot of our old team-mates and people we’ve played with before. So that’s what kick-started the charity and it just absolutely snowballed.”

Scott added: “It was amazing. We knew we’d get a few of the lads joining but the support we had so quickly was fantastic, we couldn’t really believe what was going on at first.”

The old school chums went from five phone calls a day to getting 1,500 tweets.

An awestruck Southgate said: “By what you’re doing at least you’re keeping fit which is an important part of everyone keeping mentally in a good place as well.”

Kevin told the England boss: “The football community makes you really proud to be part of football.

"We’ve had over 120 clubs from Sussex, from Brighton and Hove Albion all the way down to Sunday league, to women’s football to junior football.

“Everyone just having the camaraderie just from the Twitter and Instagram we run has been so refreshing to see.

“And nearly 2,000 runners have taken part. It’s been overwhelming at times but, obviously, very rewarding for our NHS.”

Gareth told the pair: “Brilliant. It’s a fantastic job from both of you. It is really inspiring and good luck with everything. I hope you and your families stay safe and it was lovely to talk to you.”

To donate to the Run5k4NHS campaign, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/run5k4nhs