By Tony Dewhurst

Iain Dowie, the former Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers manager, has been appointed The Football League Trust's Ambassador for Disability Sport.

"I'm thrilled and enormously honoured to be asked to be an ambassador - it is a special thing for me," said Dowie.

"These brave people exemplify all that is good about sport and the human spirit.

"If I can do just a little bit to help out then I'll be more than happy.

"I'm very humbled to be involved in The Football League Trust's work with the disabled, because I've seen for myself how it can change people's lives."

Dowie, who made 59 appearances for Northern Ireland, said working with disabled footballers at the 2011 Grassroots event at Birmingham made a huge impression on him.

"Sport is an amazing link for a lot of people, and finding a way to cope with a severe disability," he said.

"I saw that for myself at Grassroots and it was a very humbling experience.

"Football is sometimes criticized for its excess, but The Football League Trust and the Every Player Counts disability sport project is such a powerful and vibrant link.

"There's a great symmetry. It also brings a sense of belonging because a lot of these people have a huge affinity with their local clubs.

"That allows them to be almost part of it, to play for a Nottingham Forest or a Derby County, at a festival like Grassroots.

"There's a lot of goodwill towards disability sport, because it is such a noble cause."

Dowie, a centre-forward for Luton, West Ham, and Southampton in a playing career spanning nearly 20 years, led Crystal Palace to the Premier League in 2004.

"People talk about the pressure of management, the intensity of that job, but when I see these amazing people overcoming a disability through sheer guts and determination, then that's one of the most special things I've seen in football," he said.

"We can all get carried away, ranting and raving at matches or watching on television, but you soon realise that when you are part of something special like Every Player Counts it all comes down to simple things like enjoyment and competitiveness.

"People facing adversity often show fantastic character and everybody I've had the honour to work with in disability sport has had that amazing fighting spirit.

"They've found a way to deal with it, but they don't want any sorrow or pity.

"That in itself shows their strength and it is staggering to see how they cope."

Dowie added: "I'll never forget that day at Grassroots, wrestling with the controls of a power wheelchair in The Football League Trust coaching arena.

"I was absolutely useless, but these lads and girls were dribbling the ball with their power chair and it was just amazing to watch because it was a very special skill to do that.

"One lad stood out for me, though. Anthony from Nottingham Forest - he was probably the most severely disabled guy there, but he was the most vivacious, bubbly and bright.

"He made you feel that you want to live your life like every day is your last.

"He took the best out of everything and had this amazing ability to be positive given what he was coping with, and I think that's what puts it into perspective.

"It is great for the human spirit to be with these people. They lift you so much because they find a way to overcome things and their biggest love is football."