A young Carrickfergus football fan has been giving high fives to some of the top names in the game.
Kade McGookin (7) had the honour of walking out on to the Stamford Bridge turf on Wednesday night ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League tie against Paris Saint Germain.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came true for the Woodlawn Primary School pupil and avid Blues fan after dad, Dean, an equally keen supporter of the London club, won a MasterCard Mascot Experience.
Though Kade’s preference would have been to accompany his favourite player, Cesc Fabergas, he was, in the words of mum, Cheryl, “thrilled” to take the hand of PSG and Brazil midfielder Thiago Motta in front of a packed stadium.
Originally Cheryl had proposed to hold a football-themed party at home for friends to join in the spirit of the occasion but a “last minute” change of plans saw her make the memorable trip too.
Family back home had a clear view of Kade on their televisions, she explained, as he made his way from the tunnel onto the pitch.
He had a ball, he loved it. He was high fiving the players.Cheryl McGookin
Evenly poised after a 1-1 draw in France and with a quarter-final place at stake, Kade was on the edge of his seat from the first whistle of this second leg encounter. Things were looking promising for the hosts after Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given his marching orders and the visitors were reduced to 10 men just past the half-hour mark.
The emotional roller-coaster continued for the Chelsea faithful after Gary Cahill’s goal in the 81st minute was cancelled out by former Blues defender David Luiz to send the game into extra-time.
Kade’s dream outcome was back on after Eden Hazard slotted home a penalty only for Thiago Silva to net a second for the French outfit and send them through on the away goals rule.
Kade was “devastated” at the result, Cheryl revealed, but it is the overall experience that will stay with him.
“He had a ball, he loved it. He was high fiving the players, including Diego Costa (Chelsea striker).” she added.