WHILE Aaron Wilbraham carved his name into Wanderers folklore with a famous late goal against Nottingham Forest to save the club from relegation, his daughter Ashlee fought an equally valiant battle off the pitch.

From a quite early age, Ashlee Wilbraham developed a stutter which affected her confidence and at one stage left her unable to say her own name.

The speech disorder became such an issue that Wilbraham sought specialist help and after completing the McGuire Programme, the Wilmslow-based teenager is now making significant progress.

As part of the course the 14-year-old was asked to give a public speech outside Birmingham New Street rail station and contact a reporter to tell her story.

And speaking to The Bolton News, Ashlee is delighted to have reached a stage where she can do such things without batting an eyelid.

“I used to get questioned quite a lot about it at school and teased a lot,” she said. “I remember once being in maths and telling this boy about my stutter and he made fun of me. It was hard but I have good friends and a good family.

“At one point I couldn’t really say my own name. I’d had speech therapy in year six and the stutter would come and go. And then it really stuck.

“So I did the McGuire Programme which teaches you to handle the stutter.

“It’s like a sport you have to train for. I spend 20 minutes every morning doing costal breathing exercises and you try things like deliberate disfluency, basically making yourself say things wrong so that the correct way becomes more natural. And it has worked for me."

Wilbraham’s football career has seen him play in all four divisions – but things really took off in his thirties with two Championship promotions at Norwich and Crystal Palace and another successful spell with Bristol City before his arrival at Wanderers.

Now at Rochdale, the 40-year-old explained the hardship his daughter had faced conquering her problems.

“I was at MK Dons when she started school and we went to see a doctor about it but they said ‘she’s a girl, they grow out of this sort of thing quickly’ and that it would be nothing to worry about,” he said. “But the longer it went on the more we went looking for answers.

“By the time I was playing for Crystal Palace and Norwich it had started to affect her confidence. And bear in mind the moving around we were doing - she’d had five different primary schools and that’s hard for any kid.

“I know people who have had speech issues in the dressing room and it’s easy to go missing and try to hide it. But that isn’t her, she’s really upfront.

“We saw the course on a Channel Four programme and if anything has ever been worth the money, it was that.

“Debra (Wilbraham’s wife) went down to Birmingham with her and at the end of it she was giving a speech outside the station. It was amazing.

"Just recenty it started to creep back in again but once you have paid for the course they continue to give you support, so she got back in touch.

“We are so, so proud of her.”

Ashlee intends to continue working hard and potentially follow in his dad's footsteps.

"I think when I leave school I'd like to do something sporty," she said. "I take after my dad. And he always says working on my stutter is like training for football, so you never know!"