There was plenty of action at Chelsea FC’s Stoke D’Abernon training ground last week, but none of it came from the players.

An injured swan gave wildlife rescuers the run around for nearly three hours, the length of two back-to-back football matches, after a stick got lodged in its leg tag.

A team from Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) were called in to remove the stick from the British Trust for Ornithology ring but found it difficult because the swan refused to leave the training ground’s lake.

Chelsea groundsmen and WAF rescuers took to the water in rowing boats and, after three hours of no success, the team’s effort paid off and the stick was removed.

After an examination of the bird, it was released back on to the lake to continue swimming.

Simon Cowell, WAF founder who led the rescue mission, said it was a relief when they finally caught the swan.

He said: "It's great having a world-class football team just down the road from our wildlife hospital but it would be even better if we could work together with them.

"It might not be obvious but there are great synergies between WAF and Chelsea FC. Both organisations are absolutely committed to opening up new opportunities for children - in our case by educating youngsters about the wonders of nature and the countryside."

WAF, based in Leatherhead, deals with 20,000 wildlife incidents each year.

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