Man who turned down chance to see England semi-final so he could donate stem cells to save a life has been given tickets to the final

Sam Astley and his girlfriend had won tickets to the match between England and Denmark.

A selfless football fan who turned down Wembley tickets for the England v Denmark Euros match to donate stem cells and bone marrow has been given tickets for the final against Italy on Sunday night.

Sam Astley, 24, was going to attend the match with his girlfriend who had won the tickets, but turned down the opportunity after discovering he was a donor match.

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He had signed up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register and was informed the procedure in London was on the same day as the match.

Sam Astley missed the England semi-final after his girlfriend Beth Hill won tickets (Photos: SWNS / BBC)

Sam said he had no regrets about turning down the tickets to donate.

He said: "Life is more important than a football game at the end of the day.

"No football game beats saving someone's life."

Euro 2020 sponsor Vivo said it was providing him with final tickets which he will collect today (9 July) after his discharge.

Sam Astley has been hailed a real-life hero for passing up the chance of a lifetime to see the England football team play at Wembley to instead help save a life by donating his stem cells and bone marrow.

Sam said it was "unbelievable" to be going to see England v Italy in the final.

As well as donating stem cells, Sam, a buyer for a manufacturing technology firm, donated a litre of bone marrow.

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He added: "Somebody's waiting for the donation but we're not sure which part of the world they're from."

He admitted to being "a bit nervous" about the procedure which is likely to leave him in some discomfort and tired for up to a month.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Sam said he was pleased about the media coverage his story had received, to spread awareness of the Anthony Nolan register.

"I am obviously pleased it has taken off, because we have managed to spread awareness for the great charity Anthony Nolan so hopefully more people will sign up to their register," he said.

"I think because it has been such a crazy 24 hours I think it has really helped with my recovery and the adrenaline has kept me going."

Sam’s girlfriend also had to surrender her tickets because she’s self isolating, so the pair gave the tickets to family instead.

Sam signed up to the register an a memorial football match organised in memory of Olly Wilkes, who took his own life aged 22.

Olly's father Simon Wilkes suffers from a blood disorder and has been trying to raise awareness of the condition and help get more people to donate stem cells.

More donors needed

Rebecca Pritchard, director of register development at the Anthony Nolan charity, said: “Our donors are incredible people at the best of times, bearing in mind they agree to help a complete stranger in this way.

"But these are extraordinary times. Sam has done an extraordinary and incredibly selfless thing by putting the needs of his recipient, above his own pleasure.

The charity is particularly looking to encourage more men aged 16 to 30 to join the Anthony Nolan register as they are the most likely to be chosen to donate.