Preston's John Farnworth traverses 60 miles across the Sahara desert - juggling a ball every step of the way

A freestyle footballer has travelled 60 miles across the scorching Sahara desert - doing keepie uppies every step of the way.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 1:04 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 1:13 pm
John Farnworth in the Sahara desert

John Farnworth, 33, battled 40c degree heat and had to endure a treacherous sandstorm as he juggled a ball in the air 250,000 times over the course of six days.

John plastered on factor 50 sun cream, wore a headscarf to keep the sun from his skin and donned specially-designed trainers to prevent sand from getting inside.

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John Farnworth in the Sahara desert

The only times John didn't keep the ball in the air between March 10 and 15 was when he was sleeping or taking food and toilet breaks.

He spent up to ten hours making ground in the desert each day.

The thrill-seeking sportsman, who holds nine football related world records including one for kicking a ball up Everest, hopes his latest feat will take his haul into double figures.

The record John's aiming to claim is 'furthest distance travelled within an hour while keeping a ball in the air'.

John battled against stifling 40 degree heat

The distance of 3.5 miles is yet to be approved but he says he has enough evidence to "get it over the line".

John, from Preston said: "This was definitely the hardest challenge I've ever undertaken.

"Within the first couple of days there was an enormous sandstorm, which made making progress so difficult.

"On day one we barely travelled two miles and sand got absolutely everywhere, it went into my eyes and into the food as well.

"The wind also meant the ball was going all over the place, so I had to go really slowly to make sure it didn't touch the ground.

"And the heat was obviously another huge challenge, as that's something it's really impossible to train for.

"It was so, so hot but I just had to keep focused and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other."

He added: "In terms of the living conditions there were certainly no luxuries.

"We were staying in tents and it was obviously very basic.

"The locals we had along with us were great though because they knew the area so well."

Keepie uppies, also known as keep-ups or kick-ups, is the skill of keeping a football in the air without it touching the ground by using your feet, knees, chest and head.

John trained for the challenge by playing football on a beach in Lytham St Annes and doing lots of leg muscle training at the gym.

He took three friends with him to help carry the tents and food and also to document the journey.

Incredible images show John juggling a ball, with nothing but sand as far as the eyes can see.

John undertook the incredible challenge to raise money for Derian House Children’s Hospice, which he hopes to earn £5,000 for.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/challengesahara