One of our most memorable clips from the Homeless World Cup is of Chor Pat – big, boisterous and bare-bodied – running onto the pitch after the Hong Kong team’s first victory.

Chor Pat, eyes bright with joy, swinging his t-shirt in the air as he pranced around the other players. He had been sidelined that day because of a minor injury. But nothing it seemed, could stop his celebratory dance.

In a team of intensely private individuals, Chor Pat always wore his heart on his sleeve. Whereas it took an eternity getting to know Ah Lung and Ah Hung, Chor Pat was, from the get-go, eager to share his story.

We met him by chance at Un Chau Street Sleepers’ Hostel. We had gone to see Ah Lung. He was late. But Chor Pat was there, his booming voice audible even two floors down. He told us he’d just moved in after spending several days on the streets.

“Gambling,” he said. “I gambled my life away.”

In the weeks that followed, we got to know the man better.

He found a job as a bus driver and we celebrated over dinner at Temple Street. He took us to his childhood home and introduced us to his brother. He spoke often about how he planned to turn his life around, how he hoped his wife would take him back.

And he joined the football team. He was, even by his own admission, a lousy player. But everyone seemed to enjoy having him around. Chor Pat, in a good mood, was always great fun.

Then one day, he disappeared. Didn’t show up for practice for weeks. Turned off his phone. Wai Tung fretted and fussed. Someone had seen Chor Pat buying a big bag of charcoal before he vanished. And death by poisonous fumes was apparently a popular way of committing suicide in Hong Kong. We spent hours scouring the streets of Shamshuipo, and eventually found him asleep on his bus. He said his boss owed him two months’ pay. He was homeless again. And very depressed.

Those of us who’ve never been homeless will never quite understand the stress of being on the streets. The danger involved. The chore of finding a place to rest, take a shower, store your stuff. It is draining. Exhausting.

But Chor Pat did return to the team. He managed to find some part-time work. And he made it to South Africa, where he whooped, cheered and had the time of his life. He told us the experience inspired him to keep trying to turn his life around.

During our last meeting, he showed us his new home. It was a tiny cubicle, grim and airless.

“Not great,” he said. “But it’s a start.”

When we left, he was sitting on his bed, reading a letter. The spartan room had a single decorative item – his medal from the Homeless World Cup. It dangled off a nail in the wall. Shining.