A YOUNG Celtic fan is being sent on a trip of a lifetime - to see his former Hoops idol Georgios Samaras play for his country at the World Cup in Brazil.
Jay Beatty, who has Down’s syndrome, became a huge fan of Greek striker Samaras when the footballer plucked him from the stands when Celtic lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy this year.
Samaras carried the 11-year-old around the pitch at Celtic park and Jay famously took the opportunity to give Samaras’ beard a rub. The pair had previously met at a Celtic match in Ireland when the youngster went on the team bus.
The pair have kept in touch since Samaras left the Scottish side and Jay was seen on social media sites cheering on Greece at this year’s World Cup.
Last night it emerged the Greek Football Federation (EPO) has agreed to pay for Jay and his family to travel to Brazil to watch Samaras and his fellow international team mates take on Costa Rica in the next round of the World Cup.
Greek fans had created a page on Facebook called “O JAY PAEI Mundial” - ‘Jay goes to the World Cup’ in Greek - to encourage the EPO to cover the cost of sending Jay to Sunday’s match.
Asked about Jay by during an interview in Brazil last night Samaras revealed his country’s top football officials had now agreed to pay for the trip of a lifetime.
The striker said: “This boy gives me so much strength, it’s incredible. There are no words. I feel his love so much. This love I feel, is also felt by many people in Greece. There’s a Facebook page for him to come to Brazil.”
“This morning, in a talk I had with the head of the EPO, we said we will arrange his tickets to come and watch the match with Costa Rica. Well will talk with the boy’s father, we’ll tell him about everything and we’ll see.”
Jay, of County Armagh in Ireland, often travels to Scotland to see his team play. Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon gave his title medal to the youngster, who wears distinctive green glasses.
Samaras left Celtic after more than six years in May.
• Video courtesy of www.enikos.gr